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Eo Te Ne ee 
CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE 


WITH 


ECKERMANN AND SORET. 


TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN 


By JOHN OXENFORD. 


IN TWO VOLUMES. 


VOL. i. 
VW 
4 \ 
r, “th 
aXe 
LONDON: 


SMITH, ELDER & CO., 65, CORNHILL. 





1850. 


rat Eat ey ware ry a 
, Boy 





« 


1 827 (continued). 








Braud 4 


Peeutiae’s 





1827. 





(Sup.) Wednesday, September 26, 1827 


GorTHeE had invited me to take a drive this morning 
to the Hottelstedt Ecke, the most western summit of 
the Ettersberg, and thence to the Ettersburg hunt- 
ing lodge. ‘The day was very fine, and we drove 
early out of the Jacob’s gate. Behind Liitzendorf, 
where the journey was up-hill, and we could only 
drive leisurely, we had an opportunity for various 
observations. Goethe observed in the hedges a num- 
ber of birds, and asked me if they were larks. Thou 
great and beloved one, thought I, though thou hast 
investigated nature as few others have, in ornithology 
thou appearest a mere child. 

«These are yellow-hammers and sparrows,” re- 
turned I, “and some late gras-miicken,* which, after 
moulting, come from the thicket of the Ettersberg 
down to the gardens and fields, and prepare for their 
migration; but there are no larks. It is not in the 
nature of larks to settle upon bushes. ‘The field or 
sky-larks, rise upwards into the air, and dart down 
again to the earth; they also, in the autumn, fly 
through the air in flocks, and settle themselves some- 


* A kind of small singing bird.—Trans. 
' B 2 


4 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


where in a stubble-field; but they do not settle upon 
hedges and bushes. ‘The tree-lark, on the contrary, 
lives on the summit of high trees, whence it rises 
singing into the air, and then drops down again to 
its tree-top. There is still another lark, which is 
found in woodland glades, and which has a soft, flute- 
like, but rather melancholy song. It is not found 
on the Ettersberg, which is too lively, and too near 
the dwellings of man; neither does it perch upon 
bushes.” 

“ Humph!” said Goethe, “you appear to be no 
novice in these things.” 

““T have pursued the subject with ardour from my 
youth,” returned I, “and have always had my eyes 
and ears open to it. In the whole wood of the Etters- 
berg, there are few spots through which I have not 
repeatedly rambled. Now, when I hear any note, I 
can venture to say from what bird it proceeds. I 
have also gone so far that, if any one brings me a bird 
that has lost its feathers in captivity through bad treat- 
ment, I will undertake very soon to restore it to health 
and full feather.” 

“That certainly shews,” returned Goethe, “ that 
you have already made much progress in these matters ; 
I would advise you to pursue the study earnestly ; it 
must, with your decided inclination, lead to very good 
results. But tell me something about moulting. You 
just now spoke of gras-miicken, which, after the com- 
pletion of their moulting, come down into the fields from 
the thickets of the Ettersberg. Is moulting, then, con- 
fined to a certain time, and do all birds moult at once?” 

*¢ Most birds,” returned I, ‘‘ commence at the end 


—— 


1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 5 


of the breeding season; that is to say, as soon as the 
young of the last brood are so far advanced as to 
be able to take care of themselves. But now the 
question is, whether the bird has time to moult be- 
tween this period and that of its migration? If it 
has, it moults, and migrates with fresh feathers; but 
if it has not, it migrates with its old feathers, and 
moults later, in the warm south. Birds do not all 
return to us at the same time in the spring; neither 
do they migrate at the same time in the autumn, And 
this proceeds from the circumstance that some are 
less affected by cold and rough weather, and can bear 
it better than others. But a bird which comes to us 
early migrates late, and a bird which comes to us late 
migrates early. 

“Thus, even amongst the gras-miicken, though they 
belong to one class, there is a great difference. The 
chattering gras-miicke, or the miiller-chen,* are heard 
at the end of March; a fortnight after comes the 
black-headed one, or the monk (Ménch); then, a 
week afterwards, the nightingale; and quite at the 
end of April, or the beginning of May, the grey one. 
All these birds moult in August with us, as well 
as the young of the first brood; wherefore, at the 
end of August, young monks are caught, which have 
already black heads. The young of the last brood, 
however, migrate with their first feathers, and moult 
later in the southern countries, for which reason 
young monks are caught at the beginning of Sep- 
tember, especially young male birds, which have red 
heads like their mother.” 


* Literally, “ little miller.”—Trans. 


6 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


‘Is, then,” asked Goethe, “the grey gras-miicke 
the latest bird that returns to us, or are there others 
later ?” 

“The so-called yellow spott-vogel (mocking-bird), 
and the magnificent golden pire] (yellow thrush),” 
returned I, “do not appear till about Whitsuntide. 
Both migrate in the middle of August, after the breed- 
ing season, and moult, with their young, in the south. 
If they are kept in cages, they moult with us in the 
winter ; on which account they are very difficult to 
rear, ‘They require much warmth, yet if we hang 
them near the stove they pine from the want of 
fresh air; while if, on the contrary, we place them 
near the window, they pine in the cold of the long 
nights.” 

“Tt is supposed, then,” said Goethe, ‘ that moult- 
ing is a disease, or at least is attended by bodily 
weakness.” 

“JT would not say that,” said I. ‘It is a state of 
increased productiveness, which is gone through with- 
out difficulty in the open air, and with somewhat strong 
birds perfectly well inaroom. I have had gras-miicken 
which have not ceased singing during their moulting, a 
sign that they were thoroughly well. But if a bird 
kept in a room appears at all sickly during its moulting, 
it may be concluded that it has not been properly 
treated, with respect either to food, water, or fresh 
air. If, in the course of time, a bird kept in a room 
has grown so weak from want of air and freedom, 
that it has not the productive power to moult, and 
if it is then taken into the fruitful, fresh air, the 
moulting will go on as well as possible. With a 





1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 7 


bird at liberty, on the other hand, it passes off so gently 
and gradually that it is scarcely felt.” 

* But, still, you just now seemed to hint,” added 
Goethe, “ that during their moulting the gras-miicken 
retire into the depths of the forest.” 

“ During that time,” returned I, “they certainly 
need shelter; and in this case nature proceeds with 
such wisdom and moderation, that a bird during its 
moulting never loses so many feathers at once as 
to render it incapable of flying sufficiently to reach 
its food. But it may still happen that it loses, for in- 
stance, at the same time the fourth, fifth, and sixth 
principal feathers of the left wing, and the fourth, 
fifth, and sixth feathers of the right one, so that, 
although it can still fly very well, it cannot fly well 
enough to escape from the pursuing birds of prey— 
especially the swift and active tree falcon—and then a 
bushy thic’ et is very useful.” 

“Good,” returned Goethe. ‘ But,” continued he; 
“does the moulting take place in both wings equally 
and symmetrically ?” 

“As far as my observation extends, quite so,” re- 
turned 1; ‘and that is very beneficial. For if a bird 
lost, for instance, three principal feathers from the left 
wing and not so many from the right, the wings would 
be without equilibrium, and the bird would have no 
proper control over itself or its movements. It would 
be like a ship, the sails of which are too heavy on 
one side and too light on the other.” 

“«] see,” returned Goethe, ‘‘ we may penetrate into 
nature on whatever side we please, and always come 
to some wisdom.” 


8 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


We were, meantime, continually going up-hill, and 
were now on the edge of a pine wood. We came to 
a place where some stones had been broken, and lay in 

-a heap. Goethe ordered the coachman to stop, and 

begged me to alight and see if I could discover any 
petrifactions. I found some shells, and also some 
broken ammonites, which I handed to him when I 
again took my seat. We drove on. 

‘¢ Always the old story,” said Goethe ; ‘ always the 
old bed of the sea! When one looks down from 
this height upon Weimar, and upon the numerous 
villages around, it appears wonderful when one thinks 


that there was a time when whales sported in the broad 


valley below. And yet there was such a time—at least 
it is highly probable. But the mew that flew over the 
sea which then covered this mountain certainly never 
thought that we two should drive here to-day. And 
who knows whether, in some thousands of years, 
the mew may not again fly over this mountain.” 

We were now upon the height, and drove quickly 
along. On our right were oaks, beeches, and other 
leafy trees: Weimar was behind us, but out of sight. 
We had reached the western height ; —the broad valley 
of the Unstrut with many villages and small towns, 
lay before us, in the clearest morning sun. 

“This is a good resting-place,” said Goethe, as he 
ordered the coachman to stop. ‘I think we may 
as well try how a little breakfast would suit us in 
this good air.” 

We alighted, and walked up and down for a few 
minutes upon the dry earth, at the foot of some half- 
grown oaks, stunted by many storms, whilst Frederick 


oC 


1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 9 


unpacked the breakfast we had brought with us, and 
spread it upon a turfy hillock. The view from this 
spot, in the clear’ morning light of the autumn sun, 
was truly magnificent. On the south and south-west, 
we saw the whole range of the Thuringer-wald moun- 
tains ; on the west, beyond Erfurt, the towering Castle 
Gotha and the Inselsberg ; farther north, the mountains 
behind Langensalza and Mihlhausen, until the view was 
bounded on the north by the blue Hartz Mountains. I 
thought of the verses— 
“ Far, high, splendid the view, 
Around into life! 
From mountain to mountain, 


Soars the eternal spirit, 
Presaging endless life.” 


We seated ourselves with our backs against the 
oak; so that, during breakfast, we had constantly 
before us the extensive view over half Thiiringia. 
In the mean while we demolished a brace of roast 
partridges, with new white bread, and drank a flask 
of very good wine, out of a cup of pure gold which 
Goethe always carried with him on such excursions 
in a yellow leather case. 

“‘] have very often been in this spot,” said he, 
“and of late years I have often thought it would 
be the last time that I should look down hence on the 
kingdoms of the world, and their glories ; but it has 
happened still once again, and I hope that even this is 
not the last time that we shall both spend a pleasant 
day here. We will, for the future, often come hither. 
One shrinks in the narrow confinement of the house. 
Here one feels great and free, as the great nature 


10 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


which one has before one’s eyes, and as one ought, 
properly, always to be.” 

“From this spot,’ continued Goethe, “I look 
down upon many points which are bound up with 
the richest recollections of a long life. What have 
I not, in my youth, gone through yonder in the 
mountains of IImenau? Then, how many adven- 
tures have I had down below there, in dear Erfurt! 
In early times, too, I often liked to be at Gotha; but 
for many years I have scarcely been there at all.” 

“Since I have been in Weimar,” remarked I, “I 
do not recollect you going there.” 

“There is a reason for that,” returned Goethe, 
laughing, “I am not in the best favour there. I 
will tell you the story. When the mother of the 
present ruler was in the bloom of youth, I was very 
often there. I was sitting one evening alone with 
her at the tea-table, when the two princes, of ten 
and twelve years of age, two pretty, fair-haired boys, 
burst in and came to the table. With great audacity, 
I put a hand through the hair of each prince, with 
the words—‘ Now, you floury heads, what do you 
want?’ The boys stared in the greatest astonishment 
at my boldness, and they have never forgotten the 
affair! I will not boast of it now; but so it was, 
and it lay deep in my nature. I never had much 
respect for mere princely rank as such, when there 
was not behind it sound human nature, and sound 
human worth. Nay, I felt so satisfied with myself, 
that if I had been made a prince I should not have 
thought the change so very remarkable. When the 
diploma of nobility was given me, many thought 





1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. II 


that I should feel elevated by it; but, between our- 
selves, it was nothing to me—really nothing! We 
Frankfort patricians always considered ourselves equal 
to the nobility; and when I held the diploma in my 
hands I had nothing more, in my own opinion, than I 
had possessed long ago.” 

We took another good draught from the golden cup, 
and then drove round the northern side of the Etters- 
berg to the Ettersburg hunting-lodge. Goethe had 
all the chambers opened, which were hung with beau- 
tiful tapestry and pictures. He told me that Schiller 
had for some time inhabited the chamber at the western 
angle of the first storey. 

“In early times,” continued he, ‘‘ we have here 
spent many a good day, and wasted many a good day. 
We were all young and wanton: in the summer we 
had impromptu comedies, and in the winter many a 
dance and sledge-race by torch-light.” 

We returned into the open air, and Goethe led 
me, in a westerly direction, along a footpath into the 
wood. 

‘«¢T will show you the beech,” said he, ‘¢ on which 
we cut our names fifty years ago. But how it has 
altered, and how everything has grown! ‘That must 
be the tree ; you see that it is still in the fullest vigour. 
Even our names are still to be traced ; but they are so 
confused. and distorted that they are scarcely to be 
made out. This beech then stood upon a dry, open 
spot. It was quite sunny and pleasant around it, and 
here, in the beautiful summer evenings, we played our 
impromptu farces. Now the spot is damp and cheer- 
less. What were then only low bushes have now 


12 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


grown up into shady trees, so that one can scarcely 
distinguish in the thicket the magnificent beech of 
one’s youth.” 

We returned to the lodge, and after we had seen 
the tolerably rich collection of arms, we drove back to 
Weimar. 

(Sup.) Thursday, September 27, 1827. 

This afternoon spent a short time with Goethe, when 
I made the acquaintance of Privy-councillor Streckfuss, 
of Berlin, who had taken a drive with him in the fore- 
noon, and had then stayed to dinner, When Streckfuss 
went, I accompanied him, and took a walk through 
the park. On my return across the market-place, I 
met the Chancellor and Raupach, with whom I went 
into the “ Elephant.” In the evening I returned to 
Goethe, who talked with me about a new number of 
“ Kunst und Alterthum” (Art and Antiquity), and also 
about a dozen pencil-drawings, in which the brothers 
Riepenhausen endeavoured to represent the painting 
of Polygnotus, in the Lesche at Delphi, according to 
the description of Pausanias, an attempt which Goethe 
could not sufficiently praise. 


(Sup.) Monday, October 1, 1827. 


At the theatre, “ Das Bild” (the Picture), by Hou- 
wald. I saw two acts, and then went to Goethe, who 
read to me the second scene of his new Faust. 

“¢ Tn the emperor,” said he, ‘‘ I have endeavoured to 
represent a prince who has all the necessary qualities 
for losing his land, and at last succeeds in so doing. 

“¢ He does not concern himself about the welfare of his 


kingdom and his subjects ; he only thinks of himself, 


— 





en i i 


1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 13 


and how he can amuse himself from day to day with 
something new. ‘The land is without law and justice ; 
the judge himself is on the side of the criminals; the 
most atrocious crimes are committed without check 
and with impunity. The army is without pay, with- 
out discipline, and roams about plundering, in order to 
provide its own pay, and help itself as it can. The 
state treasury is without money, and without hope of 
replenishment. In the emperor’s own household, things 
are no better; there is scarcity both in kitchen and 
cellar. The marshal, who cannot devise means how 
to get on from day to day, is already in the hands of 
usurious Jews, to whom everything is pawned, so that 
bread already eaten comes to the emperor’s table. 

“ The counsellor of state wishes to remonstrate with 
his Majesty upon all these evils, and advises as to 
their remedy ; but the gracious sovereign is very un- 
willing to lend his sublime ear to anything so disagree- 
able ; he prefers amusing himself. Here now is the 
true element for Mephisto, who quickly supplants the 
former fool, and is at once at the side of the emperor 
as new fool and counsellor.” 

Goethe read the scene and the interspersed murmur- 
ing of the crowd excellently, and I had a very pleasant 
evening. 

(Sup.) Sunday, October 7, 1827. 

This morning, the weather being very beautiful, I 
found myself in the chariot with Goethe before eight 
o’clock, and on the road to Jena, where he intended to 
stay until the next evening. 

Having arrived there early, we first called at the 
botanical garden, where Goethe surveyed all the shrubs 


14 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


and plants, and found them all thriving and in beautiful 
order. We also looked over the mineralogical cabinets, 
and some other collections of natural objects, and then 
drove to Herr von Knebel’s, who expected us to 
dinner. 

Knebel, who had attained a great age, almost stum- 
bled towards Goethe at the door, to fold him in his arms. 
At dinner all were very lively and hearty, although 
there was no conversation of any importance. The 
two old friends were quite enough occupied with the 
pleasure of their friendly meeting. After dinner we 
took a drive in a southerly direction, up the Saale. I 
had known this charming region in earlier times, but 
everything appeared as fresh as if I had never seen it 
before. 

When we returned into the streets of Jena, Goethe 
gave orders to drive along a brook, and to stop at a 
house the external appearance of which was not very 
striking. 

“This was the dwelling of Voss,” said he, ‘and I 
will conduct you on this classic ground.” We walked 
through the house, and entered the garden. There were 
but few traces of flowers and the finer species of culture ; 
we walked on the turf completely under fruit trees. 

“This was something for Ernestine,” said Goethe, 
“¢ who could not even here forget her excellent Eutiner 
apples, which she praised to me as incomparable. But 
they were the apples of her childhood, there was the 
charm! I have spent many pleasant evenings here 
with Voss and his excellent Ernestine, and I still like 
to think of the old time. Such a man as Voss will 
not soon come again. There are few who have had 


X 


1827. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 15 


such influence as he upon the higher German culture. 
With him everything was sound and solid; and on 
this account he had no artificial, but a purely natural 
relation to the Greeks, which produced the noblest 
fruits for us. One who is so penetrated with his 
worth as I am scarcely knows how to honour his 
memory sufficiently.” 

It was by this time about six o’clock, and Goethe 
considered it time to go to our night quarters, which 
he had bespoken at the “ Bear.” 

We were accommodated with a roomy chamber, 
together with an alcove containing two beds. The 
sun had not long set—the evening light reposed upon 
our windows, and it was pleasant to sit for some time 
without a candle. 

Goethe brought the conversation back to Voss. 
“He was very valuable to me,” said he, “and I 
would willingly have retained him for the University 
and myself; but the advantages offered from Heidel- 
berg were too important for us, with our limited 
means, to be able to outweigh them. I was obliged, 
with mournful resignation, to let him go. It was, 
however, fortunate for me at that time,” continued 
Goethe, “that I had Schiller; for, different as our 
natures were, our tendencies were still towards one 
point, which made our connection so intimate that 
one really could not live without the other.” 

Goethe related me some anecdotes of his friend, 
which appeared to me very characteristic. 

** Schiller was, as you may imagine from his high 
character,” said he, ‘“‘a decided enemy to all the 
hollow reverence, and all the vain idolatry, which 


16 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


people paid him, or wished to pay him. When 
Kotzebue proposed to get up a public demonstration 
in his house, it was -so distasteful to him that he 
was almost ill with inward disgust. It was also re- 
pulsive to him when a stranger was announced. If 
he were hindered for a moment from seeing him, 
and made an appointment for four o’clock in the 
afternoon, it generally happened that at the appointed 
hour he was ill from mere apprehension. On these 
occasions he could now and then be very impatient, 
and sometimes even rude. I was witness of his impe- 
tuous conduct towards a foreign surgeon, who entered 
unannounced to pay him avisit. The poor man, quite 
put out of countenance, did not know how he could 
retreat rapidly enough. 

“¢ However, as I have said, and as we all know,” 
continued Goethe, ‘we were, in spite of the simi- 
larity of our tendencies, very different in our natures, 
and that not merely in mental but also in physical 
matters. An air that was beneficial to Schiller acted 
on me like poison. I called on him one day, and 
as I did not find him at home, and his wife told me 
that he would soon return, I seated myself at his 
work-table to note down various matters. I had not 
been seated long before I felt a strange indisposition 
steal over me, which gradually increased, until at 
last I nearly fainted. At first I did not know to 
what cause I should ascribe this wretched and, to 
me, unusual state, until I discovered that a dreadful 
odour issued from a drawer near me. When I opened 
it, I found to my astonishment that it was full of 
rotten apples. I immediately went to the window 


——s or 


1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 17 


and inhaled the fresh air, by which I felt myself 
instantly restored. In the mean time his wife had 
re-entered, and told me that the drawer was always 
filled with rotten apples, because the scent was bene- 
ficial to Schiller, and he could not live or work with- 
out it.” 

‘‘ To-morrow morning,” continued Goethe, ‘I will 
also show you where Schiller lived in Jena.” 

In the mean time lights were brought in; we took 
a little supper, and afterwards sat for a little time 
engaged in various conversations and recollections. 

I related to Goethe a wonderful dream of my boyish 
years, which was literally fulfilled the next morning. 

“© T had,” said I, “ brought up three young linnets, 
to which I devoted my whole heart, and which I loved 
above all things. ‘They flew freely about my chamber, 
and came towards me and settled on my hand as soon 
as I entered at the door. One day at noon, I had the 
misfortune, that, on my entrance into the chamber, 
one of the birds flew over me, out of the house—I 
knew not whither. I sought it the whole afternoon, 
on all the roofs, and was inconsolable when evening 
came and I had discovered no traces of it. I went to 
sleep with sad thoughts in my heart, and towards 
morning I had the following dream :—Methought I 
roamed about the neighbouring houses in search of my 
lost bird. All at once I heard the sound of its voice, 
and saw it behind the garden of our cottage, seated 
upon the roof of a neighbour’s house. I called to it, 
and it approached me, moved its wings towards me as 
if asking for food, but still it could not venture to fly 
down to my hand. I ran quickly through our garden 

VOL, II. c 


18 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


into my chamber, and returned with the cup of soaked 
rape seed ; I held the favourite food towards it, and it 
perched upon my hand, when, full of joy, I carried it 
back into my chamber to the other two. 

“ With this dream I awoke; and as it was then 
broad daylight, I quickly put on my clothes, and with 
the utmost haste ran down through our little garden to 
the house where I had seen the bird. But how great 
was my astonishment when the bird was really there ! 
Everything happened literally as I had seen it in the 
dream. I called the bird, it approached, but it hesi- 
tated to fly to my hand. I ran back and brought 
the food, when it flew upon my hand, and I took it 
back to the others.” 

“This boyish adventure of yours,” said Goethe, 
“is certainly very remarkable. But there are many such 
things in nature, though we have not the right key to 
them. We all walk in mysteries. We are sur- 
rounded by an atmosphere of which we do not know 
what is stirring in it, or how it is connected with our 
own spirit. So much is certain,—that in particular 
cases we can put out the feelers of our soul beyond 
its bodily limits, and that a presentiment, nay, an actual 
insight into the immediate future, is accorded to it.” 

“<T have lately experienced something similar,” re- 
turned I. “As I was returning from a walk along 
the Erfurt road, about ten minutes before I reached 
Weimar, I had the mental impression that a person 
whom I had not seen, and of whom I had not 
even thought for a length of time, would meet me 
at the corner of the theatre. It troubled me to 
think that this person might meet me, and great 


—— 


1827. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 19 


was my surprise when, as I was about to turn the 
corner, this very person actually met me, in the same 
place which I had seen in my imagination ten minutes 
before.” 

“That is also very wonderful, and more than 
chance,” returned Goethe. ‘As I said, we are all 
groping among mysteries and wonders. Besides, one 
soul may have a decided influence upon another, 
merely by means of its silent presence, of which I 
could relate many instances. It has often happened 
to me that, when I have been walking with an 
acquaintance, and have had a living image of some- 
thing in my mind, he has at once begun to speak of 
that very thing. I have also known a man who, 
without saying a word, could suddenly silence a party 
engaged in cheerful conversation, by the mere power 
of his mind. Nay, he could also introduce a tone 
which would make everybody feel uncomfortable. 
We have all something of electrical and magnetic 
forces within us, and we put forth, like the magnet 
itself, an attractive or repulsive power, accordingly 
as we come in contact with something similar or 
dissimilar. It is possible, nay, even probable, that 
if a young girl were, without knowing it, to find 
herself in a dark chamber with a man who designed 
to murder her, she would have an uneasy sense of 
his unknown presence, and that an anguish would 
come over her, which would drive her from the 
room to the rest of the household.” 

“TI know a scene in an opera,” returned I, “ in 
which two lovers, who have long been separated by 
a great distance, find themselves together in a dark 

e3 


20 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


room without knowing it; but they do not remain 
long together before the magnetic power begins to 
work; one feels the proximity of the other—they 
are involuntarily attracted towards each other —and 
it is not long before the young girl is clasped in the 
arms of the youth.” 

“ With lovers,” answered Goethe, “ this magnetic 
power is particularly strong, and acts even at a distance. 
In my younger days I have experienced cases enough, 
when, during solitary walks, I have felt a great desire 
for the company of a beloved girl, and have thought 
of her till she has really come to meet me. ‘I was 
so restless in my room,’ she has said, ‘ that I could 
not help coming here.’ 

“J recollect an instance during the first years of 
my residence here, where I soon fell in love again. 
I had taken a long journey, and had returned some 
days ; but, being detained late at night by court affairs, 
I had not been able to visit my mistress ; besides, our 
mutual affection had already attracted attention, and 
I was afraid to pay my visits by day, lest 1 should 
increase the common talk. On the fourth or fifth 
evening, however, I could resist no longer, and I was 
on the road to her, and stood before her house, be- 
fore I had thought of it. I went softly up-stairs, and 
was upon the point of entering her room, when I 
heard, by the different voices, that she was not alone. 
I went down again unnoticed, and was quickly in 
the dark streets, which at that time were not lighted. 
In an impassioned and angry mood I roamed about 
the town in all directions, for about an hour, and 
passed the house once more, full of passionate thoughts 


1827. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 21 


of my beloved. At last I was on the point of return- 
ing to my solitary room, when I once more went past 
her house, and remarked that she had no light. ‘ She 
must have gone out,’ said I, to myself, ‘ but whither, 
in this dark night? and where shall I meet her?’ I 
afterwards went through many streets—I met many 
people, and was often deceived, inasmuch as I often 
fancied I saw her form and size; but, on nearer 
approach invariably found that it was not she. I 
then firmly believed in a strong mutual influence, 
and that I could attract her to me by a strong desire. 
I also believed myself surrounded by invisible beings of 
a higher order, whom I entreated to direct her steps 
to me, or mine to her. ‘ But what a fool thou art!’ 
I then said to myself; ‘ thou wilt not seek her and go 
to her again, and yet thou desirest signs and wonders !’ 

“¢ In the mean time I had gone down the esplanade, 
and had reached the small house in which Schiller 
afterwards lived, when it occurred to me to turn back 
towards the palace, and then go down a little street 
to the right. I had scarcely taken a hundred steps 
in this direction, when I saw a female form coming 
towards me which perfectly resembled her I expected. 
The street was faintly lighted by the weak rays which 
now and then shone from a window, and since I 
had been already often deceived in the course of the 
evening with an apparent resemblance, I did not feel 
courage to speak to her in doubt. We passed quite 
close to each other, so that our arms touched. I 
stood still and looked about me; she did the same. 
‘Is it you?’ said she, and I recognised her beloved 
voice. ‘At last!’ said 1, and was enraptured even 


22 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


to tears. Our hands clasped each other. ‘ Now,’ 
said I, ‘my hopes have not deceived me; I have 
sought you with the greatest eagerness; my feelings 
told me that I should certainly find you; now I am 
happy, and I thank God that my forebodings have 
proved true.” ‘ But, you wicked one!’ said she, ‘ why 
did you not come? I heard to-day, by chance, that 
you had been back three days, and I have wept the 
whole afternoon, because I thought you had forgotten 
me. ‘Then, an hour ago, I was seized with a longing 
and uneasiness on your account, such as I cannot 
describe. There were two female friends with me, 
whose visit appeared interminable. At last, when they 
were gone, I involuntarily seized my hat and cloak, 
and was impelled to go out into the air and dark- 
ness, I knew not whither; you were constantly in 
my mind, and I could not help thinking that I should 
meet you.” Whilst she thus spoke truly from her heart, 
we still held each other’s hands, and pressed them, 
and gave each other to understand that absence had 
not cooled our love. I accompanied her to her door, 
and into the house. She went up the dark stairs be- 
fore me, holding my hand and drawing me after her. 
My happiness was indescribable; both because I at 
last saw her again, and also because my belief had 
not deceived me, and I had not been deluded in my 
sense of an invisible influence.” 

Goethe was in a most amiable mood; I could 
have listened to him for hours; but he seemed to 
be gradually growing tired, and so we very soon went 
to bed in our alcove. 











1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 23 


(Sup.) Jena, Monday, October 8, 1827. 

We arose early. Whilst we were dressing, Goethe 
related to me a dream of the previous night, in which 
he imagined himself at Géttingen, where he had 
various pleasant conversations with the professors of 
his acquaintance. 

We drank a few cups of coffee, and then drove 
to the building which contains a collection of natural 
objects. We saw the anatomical cabinet, various 
skeletons of animals, modern and primeval, as well 
as skeletons of men of former ages, on which Goethe 
remarked that their teeth showed them to have been 
a very moral race. We then drove to the observa- 
tory, where Doctor Schrén showed and explained 
to us the most important instruments. We also 
examined the adjacent meteorological cabinet with 
great interest, and Goethe praised Dr. Schrén, on 
account of the great order which prevailed in all these 
things. 

We then went down into the garden, where Goethe 
had caused a little breakfast to be laid out upon a 
stone table in an arbour. ‘* You scarcely know,” 
said Goethe, “in what a remarkable place we are now 
seated. Here it was that Schiller dwelt. In this arbour, 
upon these benches, which are now almost broken, 
we have often sat, at this old stone table, and have 
exchanged many good and great words. He was 
then in the thirties, I in the forties; both were full 
of aspirations, and indeed it was something. Every- 
thing passes away; I am no more what I was; but 
the old earth still remains, and air, water, and land, 
are still the same. 


24 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


*¢ Afterwards you shall go up-stairs with Schrén, 
who will show you the room in the mansarde, which 
Schiller occupied.” 

In the mean time we relished our breakfast very 
much in this pleasant air, and on this delightful spot. 
Schiller was present, at least in our minds ; and Goethe 
devoted to him many kind words of affectionate remem- 
brance. 

I then went with Schrén to the mansarde, and en- 
_joyed the magnificent prospect from Schiller’s win- 
dows. The direction was due south, so that one 
might see the beautiful stream, interrupted by thickets 
and windings, flowing along for miles. There was also 
a wide expanse of sky. One could admirably observe 
the rising and setting of the planets ; and it could not 
be denied that this locality was very favourable for 
the conception of the astronomical and astrological 
part of Wallenstein. 

I returned to Goethe, who drove to Hofrath Débe- 
reiner; whom he highly esteems, and who showed 
him some new chemical experiments. 

It was by this time noon. We were again seated 
in the carriage. 

“I think,” said Goethe, ‘‘we will not return to 
‘The Bear,’ to dinner; but will enjoy the splendid 
day in the open air. I think we will go to Burgau. 
We have wine with us, and, in any case, we shall 
find there some good fish, which can be either boiled 
or broiled,” 

We did so, and the plan proved splendid. We 
drove along the bank of the Saale, by the thickets 
and the windings, the pleasantest way, as I had 





Ne 


1827. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 25 


already seen from Schiller’s mansarde. We were 
soon in Burgau. We alighted at the little inn near 
the river, and the bridge, where there is a crossing to 
Lobeda, a little town which was close before our eyes 
across the meadows. 

At the little inn we found all as Goethe had said. 
The hostess apologised for having nothing prepared ; 
but said we should have some soup and some good fish. 

In the mean time we walked in the sunshine, up 
and down the bridge, amusing ourselves by looking 
at the river, which was animated by raftmen, who, 
upon planks of pine-wood bound together, glided 
under the bridge from time to time, and were very 
noisy and merry over their troublesome, wet occupa- 
tion. 

We ate our fish in the open air, and then remained 
sitting over a little wine, and had all sorts of pleasant con- 
versation. A small hawk flew past, which in its flight 
and its form bore a strong resemblance to the cuckoo. 

“ There was a time,” said Goethe, ‘ when the 
study of natural history was so much behind-hand that 
the opinion was universally spread that the cuckoo was 
a cuckoo only in summer, but in winter a bird of prey.” 

“This opinion still exists amongst the people,” 
returned I, ‘And it is also laid to the charge of 
this good bird, that as soon as it is full grown, it 
devours its own parents. It is, therefore, used as 
a simile of shameful ingratitude. I know people at 
the present moment who will not allow themselves 
to be talked out of these absurdities, and who cling 
to them as firmly as to any article of their Christian 
belief.” 


26 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


“As far as I know,” said Goethe, “ the cuckoo 
is classed with the woodpecker.” 

‘* That is sometimes done,” returned I, “ probably 
because two of the toes of its weak feet have a back- 
ward inclination. I, however, should not so class it. 
For the woodpecker’s life it has neither the strong 
beak, capable of breaking the decayed bark of a tree, 
nor the sharp and very strong feathers in the tail, 
which are fit to support it during the operation. — Its 
toes, also, want the sharp claws necessary to sustain 
it; and I, therefore, consider its small feet as not 
actually, but only apparently, made for climbing.” 

‘* The ornithologists,” added Goethe, “ are probably 
delighted when they have brought any peculiar bird 
under some head ; but still, nature carries on her own 
free sport, without troubling herself with the classes 
marked out by limited men.” 

“The nightingale, too,” continued I, ‘is numbered 
amongst the gras-miicken, whilst in the energy’ of its 
nature, its movements, and its mode of life, it bears 
far more resemblance to the thrush. But still, I would 
not class it among the thrushes. It is a bird between 
the two; a bird by itself, as the cuckoo is a bird 
by itself, with a strongly expressed individuality.” 

‘¢ All that I have heard concerning the cuckoo,” said 
Goethe, “ excites in me a great interest in this wonderful 
bird. It is of a highly problematical nature, a manifest 
mystery, but not the less difficult to interpret because 
it is so manifest. And with how many things do we 
not find ourselves in the same predicament? We 
stand in mere wonderment, and the best part of things 
is closed to us. Let us take the bees. We see them 








| 





AS 


1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 27 


fly for miles after honey, and always in a different 
direction. Now they fly westward for a week, to 
a field of blooming rape-seed ; then, for a long time, 
northward, to a blooming heath; then in another 
direction to the blossom of the buckwheat; then 
somewhere else, to a blooming clover-field ; and at 
last, in some other direction, to a blossoming lime. 
But who has said to them, ‘ Now fly thither, there is 
something for you?’ and ‘ now thither, there is some- 
thing fresh?? And who has led them back to their 
village and their cell? They go hither and thither, 
as if in invisible leading-strings ; but what these really 
are we do not know. It is the same with the lark. 
She rises, singing, from a corn-field; she soars over 
a sea of corn, which the wind blows backwards and 
forwards, and in which one wave looks like the other ; 
she then returns to her young, and drops down, with- 
out fail, upon the little spot where her nest is placed. 
All these outward things are as clear as the day to us; 
but their inward, spiritual tie is concealed.” 

“With the cuckoo,” said I, “it is not otherwise. 
We know that it does not brood itself, but lays its 
egg in the nest of some other bird. We know, fur- 
thermore, that it lays it in the nest of the gras-miicke, 
the yellow wagtail, the monk ; also in the nests of the 
braunelle, the robin, and the wren. This we know. 
We also know that these are all insect-eating birds ; 
and must be so, because the cuckoo itself is an insect- 
eating bird, and the young cuckoo cannot be brought 
up by a seed-eating bird. But how does the cuckoo 
find out that these are all actually insect-eating birds ? 
For all the above-mentioned birds differ extremely from 


28 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


each other, both in form and colour; and also in their 
song and their call-note. Further, how comes it that 
the cuckoo can trust its egg and its tender young to 
nests which are as different as possible with respect 
to structure, temperature, dryness, and moisture? 
The nest of the gras-miicke is built so lightly, with 
dry hay and horse-hair, that all cold penetrates into 
it, and every breeze blows through it; it is also open 
at the top, and without shelter ; still, the young cuckoo 
thrives in it excellently. The nest of the wren, on the 
other hand, is on the outside built firmly and thickly, 
with moss, straw, and leaves, and carefully lined within 
with all sorts of wool and feathers; so that not a 
breeze can pierce through it. It is also covered at 
the top, and arched over, only a small aperture 
being left for the very small birds to slip in and out. 
One would think that in the hot days of June, the 
heat in such an enclosed hole must be suffocating ; 
but the young cuckoo thrives there best. ‘Then how 
different is the nest of the yellow-wagtail. ‘This bird 
lives by the water, by brooks, and in various damp 
places. It builds its nest upon damp commons, in 
a tuft of rushes. It scrapes a hole in the moist earth, 
and lines it scantily with some blades of grass, so that 
the young cuckoo is hatched, and must grow up in the 
damp and cold; and still it thrives excellently. But 
what a bird this must be, to which, at the most tender 
age, varieties of heat and cold, dryness and damp, which 
would be fatal to any other bird, are indifferent. And 
how does the old cuckoo know that they are so, when it 
is so susceptible to damp and cold at an advanced age.” 

“« This is a mystery,” returned Goethe ; ‘but tell 








1827.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 29 


me, if you have observed it, how the cuckoo places 
its egg in the nest of the wren, when this has so 
small an opening that she cannot enter, and sit 
upon it.” 

“ The cuckoo lays it upon a dry spot,” returned I, 
“and takes it to the nest with her beak. I believe, 
too, that she does this not only with the wren’s nest, 
but with every other. For the nests of the other in- 
sect-eating birds, even when they are open at the 
top, are still so small or so closely surrounded by 
twigs, that the great long-tailed cuckoo, cannot sit 
upon them. This can well be imagined; but how 
it happens that the cuckoo lays so unusually small 
an egg, nay, so small that it might be the egg 
of a small insect-eating bird, is a new riddle 
which one may silently admire without being able 
to unravel. The egg of the cuckoo is only a little 
larger than that of the gras-miicke; and, indeed, it 
ought not to be larger, as it has to be hatched by 
the small insect-eating birds. This is good and 
rational; but that nature, to be wise in a particular 
instance, should deviate from a great pervading law, 
according to which there exists a certain proportion 
between the size of the egg and that of the bird, 
from the humming-bird to the ostrich, this arbitrary 
proceeding, I say, is enough to inspire us with astonish- 
ment.” 

<< It certainly astonishes us,” said Goethe, ‘* because 
our point of view is too small for us to comprehend it. 
If more were revealed to us, we should probably find 
that these apparent deviations are really within the 
compass of the law. But go on, and tell me something 


30 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827 


more. Is it known how many eggs the cuckoo 
lays?” 

“Whoever tried to say anything definite on that 
point would be a great blockhead. The bird is very 
fleeting. She is now here, now there; there is never 
more than one of her eggs found in a single nest. She 
certainly lays several ; but who knows where these are, 
and who could look for them? But, supposing that she 
lays five eggs, and that all these are properly hatched, 
and brought up by affectionate foster-parents, we must 
still wonder that nature can resolve to sacrifice at least 
fifty of the young of our best singing birds for five 
young cuckoos, 

“¢ In such things, as well as others,” returned Goethe, 
“nature does not appear to be very scrupulous. She 
has a good fund of life to lavish, and she does so now 
and then without much hesitation. But how does it 
happen that so many young singing birds are lost for a 
single young cuckoo?” 

“In the first place,” I replied, “‘the first brood is 
generally lost; for even if it should happen that the 
eggs of the singing bird are hatched at the same time 
with that of the cuckoo, which is very probable, the 
parents are so much delighted with the larger bird, and 
show it such fondness, that they think of and feed that 
alone, whilst their own young are neglected, and vanish 
from the nest. Besides, the young cuckoo is always 
greedy, and demands as much nourishment as the little 
insect-eating birds can procure. It is a very long time 
before it attains its full size and plumage, and before it 
is capable of leaving the nest, and soaring to the top of 
atrée. And even long after it has flown, it requires 


— 





= — = 





1827. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 31 


to be fed continually, so that the whole summer passes 
away, while the affectionate foster-parents constantly 
attend upon their great child, and do not think of a 
second brood, It is on this account that a single young 
cuckoo causes the loss of so many other young birds.” 

“That is very convincing,” said Goethe. ‘ But 
tell me, is the young cuckoo, as soon as it has flown, 
fed also by other birds which have not hatched it? I 
fancy I have heard something of the kind.” 

“It is so,” answered I. ‘As soon as the young 
cuckoo has left its lower nest, and has takenits seat on 
the top of a tall oak, it utters a loud sound, which 
says that it is there. ‘Then all the small birds in the 
neighbourhood, which have heard it, come up to greet 
it. The gras-miicke and the monk come, the yellow 
wagtail flies up, and even the wren, whose nature it is 
constantly to slip into low hedges and thick bushes, 
conquers its nature, and rises towards the beloved 
stranger to the top of the tall oak. But the pair which 
has reared it is more constant with food, whilst the 
rest only occasionally fly to it with a choice morsel.” 

‘“* There also appears to be,” said Goethe, ‘a great 
affection between the young cuckoo and the small 
insect-eating birds.” 

“ The affection of the small insect-eating birds for 
the young cuckoo,” returned I, “is so great, that if 
one approaches a nest in which there is a young 
cuckoo, the little foster-parents do not know how to 
contain themselves for terror and anxiety. “The monk 
especially expresses the deepest despair, and flutters on 
the ground almost as if it were in convulsions.” 

“This is wonderful enough,” returned Goethe; 


32 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


_ © but it can be readily conceived. Still it appears very 
problematical to me, that a pair of gras-miicken, for in- 
stance, on the point of hatching their own eggs, should 
allow the old cuckoo to approach their nest, and lay 
her egg in it.” 

¢ That is truly very enigmatical,” returned I; ‘but 
not quite inexplicable. For, from the very circumstance 
that all small insect-eating birds feed the cuckoo after it 
has flown, and that even those feed it which did not 
hatch it; from this circumstance, I Say, arises a sort of 
affinity between the two, so that they continue to know 
each other, and to consider each other members of 
one large family. Indeed, it may happen that the same 
cuckoo which was hatched and reared by a pair of 
gras-miicken last year, may this year bring her egg to 
them.” 

“There is something in that,” returned Goethe, 
*‘Jittle as one can comprehend it.. But it still appears 
to me a wonder, that the young cuckoo is fed by those 
birds which have neither hatched it nor reared it.” 

“‘'That is, indeed, a wonder,” returned I; “ but 
still it is not without analogy. I foresee, in this in- 
clination, a great law which pervades all nature. 

“<T had once caught a young linnet, which was too 
big to be fed by man, but still too young to eat by itself. 
I took a great deal of trouble about it for half a day; 
but as it would not eat anything at all, I placed it 
with an old linnet, a good singer, which I had kept for 
some time in a cage, and which hung outside my win- 
dow. I thought to myself, if the young bird sees how 
the old one eats, perhaps it will go to its food and 
imitate it. However, it did not do so, but opened its 





1827. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 33 


beak towards the old one, and fluttered its wings, utter- 
ing a beseeching cry ; whereupon the old linnet at once 
took compassion on it, and adopting it as a child, fed it 
as if it had been its own. 

“* Afterwards, some one brought me a grey gras- 
miicke and three young ones, which I put together in a 
large cage, and which the old one fed. On the follow- 
ing day, some one brought me two young nightingales 
already fledged, which I put in with the gras-miicke, and 
which the mother bird likewise adopted and fed. Some 
days afterwards, I added a nest of young miillerchen 
nearly fledged, and then a nest with five young platt- 
monchen. The gras-miicke adopted all these and fed 
them, and tended them like a true mother. She had 
her beak always full of ant’s eggs, and was now in one 
corner of the roomy cage, and now in the other, so 
that whenever a hungry throat opened, thére she was. 
Nay, still more. One of the young gras-miicken, which 
had grown up in the mean time, began to feed some 
of the less ones. ‘This was, indeed, done in rather a 
playful, childish manner ; but still with a decided in- 
clination to imitate the excellent mother.” 

«There is certainly something divine in this,” said 
Goethe, ‘‘ which creates in me a pleasing sense of 
wonder. If it were a fact that this feeding by 
strangers was an universal law of nature, it would 
unravel many enigmas, and one could say with cer- 
tainty, that God pities the deserted young ravens that 
call upon him.” 

“‘It certainly appears to be an universal law,” re- 
turned I ; “for I have observed this assistance in feed- 
ing, and this pity for the forlorn, even in a wild state. 

VOL. II. D 


34 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


“¢ Last summer, in the neighbourhood of Tiefurt, I 
took two young wrens, which had probably only just 
left their nest, for they sat upon a bush on a twig with 
seven other young ones in a row, and the old bird was 
feeding them. I put the young birds in my silk pocket- 
handkerchief, and went towards Weimar, as far as the 
shooting house ; I then turned to the right towards the 
meadow, down along the Ilm, and passed the bathing- 
place, and then again to the left to the little wood. 
Here I thought I had a quiet spot to look once more 
at the wrens. But when I opened my handkerchief 
they both slipped out, and disappeared in the bushes 
and grass, so that I sought them in vain. ‘Three days 
afterwards, I returned by chance to the same place, 
and hearing the note of a robin, guessed there was a 
nest in the neighbourhood, which, after looking about 
for some time, I really found. But how great was my 
astonishment, when I saw in this nest, besides some 
young robins nearly fledged, my two young wrens, 
which had established themselves very comfortably, 
and allowed themselves to be fed by the old robins. 
I was highly delighted at this very remarkable dis- 
covery. Since you are so cunning, thought I to my- 
self, and have managed to help yourselves so nicely, 
and since the good robins have taken such care of you, 
I should be very sorry to destroy this hospitable inti- 
macy ; on the contrary, I wish you the greatest possible 
prosperity.” 

“That is one of the best ornithological stories I 
have ever heard,” said Goethe. ‘I drink success 
to you, and good luck to your investigations. Who- 
ever hears that, and does not believe in God, will not 


1827. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, 35 


be aided by Moses and the prophets. That is what I 
call the omnipresence of the Deity, who has every- 
where spread and implanted a portion of his endless 
love, and has intimated even in the brute as a germ, 
that which only blossoms to perfection in noble man. 
Continue your observations and your studies! You 
appear to be particularly successful with them, and may 
arrive at invaluable results.” 

Whilst we thus conversed on good and deep matters 
over our dinner in the open air, the sun had declined 
towards the summit of the western hills, and Goethe 
thought it time to retrace our steps. We drove quickly 
through Jena, and after we had settled our account at 
“ The Bear,” and had paid a short visit to Fromman, 
we drove at a rapid rate to Weimar. 


(Sup.) Thursday, October 18, 1827. 


Hegel is here, whom Goethe personally esteems very 
highly, though he does not much relish some of the 
fruits produced by his philosophy. Goethe gave a tea- 
party in honour of him this evening, at which Zelter 
was also present, who intended to take his departure 
again to-night. 

A great deal was said about Hamann, with respect 
to whom Hegel was chief spokesman, displaying a 
deep insight into this extraordinary mind, such as could 
only have arisen from a most earnest and scrupulous 
study of the subject. 

The discourse then turned upon the nature of dia- 
lectics. ‘‘ They are, in fact,” said Hegel, ‘ nothing 
more than the regulated, methodically-cultivated spirit 
of contradiction which is innate in all men, and which 

D2 


36 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1827. 


shows itself great as a talent in the distinction between 
the true and the false.” 

“Let us only hope,” interposed Goethe, “ that these 
intellectual arts and dexterities are not frequently mis- 
used, and employed to make the false true, and the true 
false.” 

“That certainly happens,” returned Hegel; ‘but 
only with people who are mentally diseased.” 

“ [ therefore congratulate myself,” said Goethe, 
“upon the study of nature, which preserves me from 
such a disease. For here we have to deal with the 
infinitely and eternally true, which throws off as in- 
capable every one who does not proceed purely and 
honestly with the treatment and observation of his sub- 
ject. I am also certain that many a dialectic disease 
would find a wholesome remedy in the study of 
nature.” 

We were still discoursing in the most cheerful man- 
ner, when Zelter arose and went out, without saying a 
word. We knew that it grieved him to take leave of 
Goethe, and that he chose this delicate expedient for 
avoiding a painful moment. 





VERSATIONS OF GOETH 





1828. 


. A +A . 
oe = ae 
; or me 


‘ale 


Deke aia 
HAY es 


. 


ae | 








1828. 


(Sup.) Tuesday, March 11, 1828. 
For several weeks I have not been quite well. I 
sleep badly, and have the most harassing dreams from 
night to morning, in which I see myself in the most 
various states, carry on all sorts of conversation with 
known and unknown persons, get into disputes and 
quarrels, and all this in such a vivid manner, that I am 
perfectly conscious of every particular next morning. 
But this dreamy life consumes the powers of my brain, 
so that I feel weak and unnerved in the day-time, and 
without thought or pleasure for any intellectual activity. 

I had frequently complained of my condition to 
Goethe, and he had repeatedly urged me to consult my 
physician. ‘* Your malady,” said he, ‘is certainly not 
very serious; it is probably nothing but a little stag- 
nation, which a glass or two of mineral water or a 
little salts would remove. But do not let it linger any 
longer ; attack it at once.” 

Goethe may have been right, and I said to myself 
that he was right; but my indecision and disinclination 
operated in this case, so that I again allowed many rest- 
less nights and wretched days to pass, without mak- 
ing the least effort to remove the indisposition. 


40 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


As I did not appear to Goethe very gay and cheer- 
ful to-day after dinner, he lost his patience, and could 
not refrain from smiling at me ironically, and bantering 
me a little. : 

“You are a second Shandy,” said he, “ the father of 
that renowned Tristram, who was annoyed half his life 
by a creaking door, and who could not come to the re- 
solution of removing the daily annoyance with a few 
drops of oil. 

“But so it is with us all! The darkness and en- 
lightenment of man make his destiny. The demon 
ought to lead us every day in leading strings, and tell 
us and direct us what we ought to do on every occa- 
sion. But the good spirit leaves us in the lurch, and 
we grope about in the dark. 

“Napoleon was the man! Always enlightened, 
always clear and decided, and endowed at every hour 
with sufficient energy to carry into effect whatever he 
considered advantageous and necessary. His life was 
the stride of a demi-god, from battle to battle, and from 
victory to victory. It might well be said of him, that 
he was found in a state of continual enlightenment. 
On this account, his destiny was more brilliant than 
any the world had seen before him, or perhaps will ever 
see after him. 

“ Yes, yes, my good friend, that was a fellow whom 
we Cannot imitate.” 

Goethe paced up and down the room. I had placed 
myself at the table, which had been already cleared, but 
upon which there was left some wine with some bis- 
cuits and fruit. Goethe filled for me, and compelled 
me to partake of both. ‘ You have, indeed,” said he, 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 41 


“not condescended to be our guest at dinner to-day, 
but still a glass of this present from good friends ought 
to do you good.” 

I did not refuse these good things, and Goethe con- 
tinued to walk up and down the room, murmuring to 
himself in an excited state of mind, and from time to 
time uttering unintelligible words. 

What he had just said about Napoleon was in my 
mind, and I endeavoured to lead the conversation back 
to that subject. ‘Still it appears to me,” I began, 
“that Napoleon was especially in that state of continued 
enlightenment when he was young, and his powers 
were yet on the increase,—when, indeed, we see at his 
side divine protection and a constant fortune. In later 
years, on the contrary, this enlightenment appears to have 
forsaken him, as well as his fortune and his good star.” 

“What would you have?” returned Goethe. “I 
did not write my ‘love songs,’ or my ‘ Werther,’ a 
second time. That divine enlightenment, whence 
everything proceeds, we shall always find in connec- 
tion with youth and productiveness, as in the case of 
Napoleon, who was one of the most productive men 
that ever lived. 

“ Yes, yes, my good friend, one need not write 
poems and plays to be productive ; there is also a pro- 
ductiveness. of deeds, which in many cases stands an 
important degree higher. The physician himself must 
be productive, if he really intends to heal ; if he is not 
so, he will only succeed now and then, as if by chance ; 
but, on the whole, he will be only a bungler.” 

“You appear,” added I, **in this case, to call pro- 
ductiveness that which is usually called genius.” 


42 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [1828. 


“One lies very near the other,” returned Goethe. 
‘¢ For what is genius but that productive power by which 
deeds arise that can display themselves before God and 
nature, and are therefore permanent, and produce re- 
sults. All Mozart’s works are of this kind; there lies 
in them a productive power which operates upon gene- 
ration after generation, and still is not wasted or con- 
sumed, 

“It is the same with other great composers and 
artists. What an influence have Phidias and Raphael 
had upon succeeding centuries, and Diirer and Holbein 
also. He who first invented the forms and proportions 
of the old German architecture, so that in the course 
of time a Strasburg minster and a cathedral of Cologne 
were possible, was also a genius; for his thoughts have 
a power continually productive, and operate even to 
the present hour. Luther was a genius of a very im- 
portant kind ; he has already gone on with influence for 
many a long day, and we cannot count the days when 
he will cease to be productive in future ages. Lessing 
would not allow himself the lofty title of a genius; 
but his permanent influence bears witness against him. 
On the other hand, we have, in literature, other names, 
and those of importance, the possessors of which, 
whilst they lived, were deemed great geniuses, but 
whose influence ended with their life, and who were 
therefore less than they and others thought. For, as 
I said before, there is no genius without a productive 
power of permanent influence ; and furthermore, genius 
does not depend upon the business, the art, or the trade 
which one follows, but may be alike in all. Whether 
one shows oneself a man of genius in science, like 





1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 43 


Oken and Humboldt, or in war and statesmanship, like 
Frederick, Peter the Great, and Napoleon, or whether 
one composes a song like Beranger, it all comes to the 
same thing; the only point is, whether the thought, 
the discovery, the deed, is living and can live on. 

“Then I must add, it is not the mass of creations 
and deeds which proceed from a person, that indicates 
the productive man. We have, in literature, poets 
who are considered very productive, because volume 
after volume of their poems has appeared. But, in my 
opinion, these people ought to be called thoroughly un- 
productive ; for what they have written is without life 
and durability. Goldsmith, on the contrary, has written 
so few poems that their number is not worth mention- 
ing; but, nevertheless, 1 must pronounce him to be a 
thoroughly productive poet, and, indeed, even on that 
account, because the little that he has written has an 
inherent life which can sustain itself,” 

A pause ensued, during which Goethe continued: to 
pace up and down the room, In the mean time, I was 
desirous of hearing something more on this weighty 
point, and therefore endeavoured to arouse Goethe 
once more, 

*¢ Does this productiveness of genius,” said I, “ lie 
merely in the mind of an important man, or does it also 
lie in the body ? ”” 

“¢ The body has, at least,” said Goethe, ‘‘ the great- 
est influence upon it. There was indeed a time when, 
in Germany, a genius was always thought of as short, 
weak, or hunch-backed ; but commend me to a genius 
who has a well-proportioned body. 

‘¢ When it was said of Napoleon that he was a man 


44 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


of granite, this applied particularly to his body. What 
was it, then, which he could not and did not venture? 
From the burning sands of the Syrian deserts, to the 
snowy plains of Moscow, what an incalculable amount 
of marches, battles, and nightly bivouacs did he go 
through? And what fatigues and bodily privations was 
he forced to endure? Little sleep, little nourishment, 
and yet always in the highest mental activity. After 
the awful exertion and excitement of the eighteenth 
Brumaire, it was midnight, and he had not tasted any- 
thing during the whole day, and yet without thinking 
of strengthening his body, he felt power enough in the 
depth of the night to draw up the well-known pro- 
clamation to the French people. When one considers 
what he accomplished and endured, one might imagine 
that when he was in his fortieth year not a sound par- 
ticle was left in him; but even at that age he still 
occupied the position of a perfect hero. 

“But you are quite right; the real focus of his 
lustre belongs to his youth. And it is something 
to say that one of obscure origin, and at a time which 
set all capacities in motion, so distinguished himself 
as to become, in his seven-and-twentieth year, the 
idol of a nation of thirty millions! Yes, yes, my 
good friend, one must be young to do great things. 
And Napoleon is not the only one !” 

“‘ His brother Lucien,” remarked I, ‘also did a 
great deal at an early age. We see him as president 
of the five hundred, and afterwards as minister of 
the interior, when he had scarcely completed his five- 
and-twentieth year.” 

“Why name Lucien?” interposed Goethe. ‘ His- 


— ~: 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 45 


tory presents to us hundreds of clever people, who, 
whilst still young, have, both in the cabinet and in the 
field, superintended the most important matters with 
great renown. 

“Tf I were a prince,” continued he, with animation, 
“¢T would never place in the highest offices, people 
who have gradually risen by mere birth and seniority, 
and who in their old age move on leisurely in their 
accustomed track, for in this way but little talent is 
brought to light. I would have young men ; but they 
must have capacities, and be endowed with clearness 
and energy, and also with the best will and the noblest 
character. ‘Then there would be pleasure in governing 
and improving one’s people. But where is there a 
prince who would like this, and who would be so well 
served ? 

“‘T have great hopes of the present Crown Prince 
of Prussia. From all that I hear and know of 
him, he is a very distinguished man; and this is 
essential to recognise and choose qualified and clever 
people. For, say what we will, like can only be 
recognised by like; and only a prince who himself 
possesses great abilities can properly acknowledge and 
value great abilities in his subjects and servants. 
‘Let the path be open to talent’ was the well-known 
maxim of Napoleon, who really had a particular tact 
in the choice of his people, who knew how to place 
every important power where it appeared in its proper 
sphere, and who, therefore, during his life-time, was 
served in all his great undertakings as scarcely any 
one was served before him.” 

Goethe delighted me particularly this evening. The 


46 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


noblest part of his nature appeared alive in him, while 
the sound of his voice and the fire of his eyes were of 
such power, as if he were inspired by a fresh gleam of 
the best days of youth. 

It was remakable to me that he, who at so great an 
age himself superintended an important post, should 
speak so decidedly in favour of youth, and should 
desire the first offices in the state to be filled, if not by 
youths, at least by men still young. I could not forbear 
mentioning some Germans of high standing, who at an 
advanced age did not appear to want the necessary 
energy and youthful activity for the direction of the 
most important and most various affairs. 

“ Such men are natural geniuses,”’ returned Goethe, 
“whose case is peculiar; they experience a renewed 
puberty, whilst other people are young but once, 

“ Every Entelechia* is a piece of eternity, and the 
few years during which it is bound to the earthly body 
does not make it old. If this Entelechia is of a trivial 
kind, it will exercise but little sway during its bodily 
confinement ; on the contrary, the body will predo- 
minate, and when this grows old the Entelechia will 
not hold and restrain it. But if the Entelechia is of a 
powerful kind, as is the case with all men of natural 
genius, then with its animating penetration of the body 
it will not only act with strengthening and ennobling 
power upon the organization, but it will also endeavour 
with its spiritual superiority to confer the privilege of 
perpetual youth. Thence it comes that in men of 


* If for this Aristotelian word the reader substitutes the popular expres- 
sion soul,” he will not go far wrong as far as this passage is concerned.— 


Trans. 


—~. 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 47 


superior endowments, even during their old age, we 
constantly perceive fresh epochs of singular productive- 
ness ; they seem constantly to grow young again for a 
time, and that is what I call a repeated puberty. Still 
youth is youth, and however powerful an Entelechia 
may prove, it will never become quite master of the 
corporeal, and it makes a wonderful difference whether 
it finds in the body an ally or an adversary. 

“< There was a time in my life when I had to furnish 
a printed sheet every day, and I accomplished it with 
facility. I wrote my ‘ Geschwister” (Brother and 
Sister) in three days; my ‘ Clavigo,” as you know, 
in a week. Now it seems I can do nothing of the 
kind, and still I can by no means complain of want of 
productiveness even at my advanced age. But whereas 
in my youth I succeeded daily and under all circum- 
stances, I now succeed only periodically and under 
certain favourable conditions. When ten or twelve 
years ago, in the happy time after the war of indepen- 
dence, the poems of the “ Divan” had me in their 
power, I was often productive enough to compose two 
or three in a day, and it was all the same to me whether 
I was in the open air, in the chariot, or in an inn. 
Now, I can only work at the second part of my 
‘“« Faust” during the early part of the day, when I feel 
refreshed and revived by sleep, and have not been per- 
plexed by the trifles of daily life. And after all, what is 
it I achieve? Under the most favourable circum- 
stances, a page of writing, but generally only so much 
as one could write in the space of a hand-breadth, 
and often, when in an unproductive humour, still less.” 

“ Are there, then, no means,” said I, “ to call forth 


48 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1828. 


a productive mood, or, if it is not powerful enough, of 
increasing it ?”’ 

“That is a curious point,” said Goethe, “and a 
great deal might be thought and talked about it. 

** No productiveness of the highest kind, no remark- 
able discovery, no great thought which bears fruit and 
has results, is in the power of any one; but such 
things are elevated above all earthly control. Man 
must consider them as an unexpected gift from above, 
as pure children of God, which he must receive and 
venerate with joyful thanks. ‘They are akin to the 
demon, which does with him. what it pleases, and to 
which he unconsciously resigns himself, whilst he 
believes he is acting from his own impulse. In such 
cases, man may often be considered as an instrument 
in a higher government of the world,—as a vessel found 
worthy for the reception of a divine influence. I say 
this, whilst I consider how often a single thought has 
given a different form to whole centuries, and how in- 
dividual men have, by their expressions, imprinted a 
stamp upon their age, which has remained uneffaced, 
and has operated beneficially upon succeeding genera- 
tions. 

“‘'There is, however, a productiveness of another 
kind subjected to earthly influences, and which man 
has more in his power, although he here also finds 
cause to bow before something divine. Under this 
category I place all that appertains to the execution of 
a plan, all the links of a chain of thought, the ends of 
which already shine forth ; I also place there all that 
constitutes the visible body of a work of art. 

“Thus, Shakspeare was inspired with the first 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 49 


thought of his Hamlet, when the spirit of the whole 
presented itself to his mind as an unexpected impres- 
sion, and he surveyed the several situations, characters, 
and conclusion, in an elevated mood, as a pure gift 
from above, on which he had no immediate influence, 
although the possibility of conceiving such a thought 
certainly presupposed a mind such as his. But the in- 
dividual scenes, and the dialogue of the characters, he had 
completely in his power, so that he might produce them 
daily and hourly, and work at them for weeks if he 
liked. And, indeed, we see in all that he has achieved, 
constantly the same power of production; and in all 
his plays, we never come to a passage of which it could 
be said ‘this was not written in the proper humour, 
or with the most perfect faculty.” Whilst we read 
him, we receive the impression of a man thoroughly 
strong and healthy, both in mind and body. 

‘¢ Supposing, however, that the bodily constitution 
of a dramatic poet were not so strong and excellent, 
and that he were, on the contrary, subject to frequent 
illness and weakness, the productiveness necessary for 
the daily construction of his scenes would very fre- 
quently cease, and would often fail him for whole days. 
If now, by some spirituous drink, he tried to force his 
failing productiveness, and supply its deficiencies, the 
method would certainly answer, but it would be dis- 
coverable in all the scenes which he had written under 
such an influence, to their great disadvantage. My 
counsel is, therefore, to force nothing, and rather to 
trifle and sleep away all unproductive days and hours, 
than on such days to compose something which will 
afterwards give one no pleasure.” 

VOL, II. E. 


50 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1828. 


“You express,” returned I, “ what I myself have 
very often experienced and felt, and what one must 
respect as thoroughly true and just. But still it ap- 
pears to me that a person might, by natural means, 
heighten his productive mood, without exactly forcing 
it. It has often been the case in my life to be unable 
to arrive at any right conclusion in certain complicated 
circumstances. But if, in such a case, I have drunk 
a few glasses of wine, I have at once seen clearly what 
was to be done, and have come to a resolution on 
the spot. The adoption of a resolution is, after all, a 
species of productiveness, and if a glass or two of wine 
will bring about this good effect, such means are surely 
not to be rejected altogether.” 

“[ will not contradict your remark,” returned 
Goethe ; “‘ but what I said before is also correct, by 
which you see that truth may be compared to a dia- 
mond, the rays of which dart not to one side, but to 
many. Since you know my ‘ Divan’ so well, you 
know also that I myself have said :— 


When we have drunk 
We know what’s right ; 


and therefore that I perfectly agree with you. Pro- 
ductive-making powers of a very important kind cer- 
tainly are contained in wine ; but still, all depends upon 
time and circumstances, and what is useful to one is 
prejudicial to another. Productive-making powers are 
also contained in sleep and repose ; but they are also 
contained in movement. Such powers lie in the | 
water, and particularly in the atmosphere. ‘The fresh 
air of the open country is the proper place to which 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 51 


we belong ; it is as if the breath of God were there 
wafted immediately to men, and a divine power exerted 
its influence. Lord Byron, who daily passed several 
hours in the open air, now riding on horseback along 
the sea-shore, now sailing or rowing in a boat, now 
bathing in the sea, and exercising his physical powers 
in swimming, was one of the most productive men 
who ever lived.” 

Goethe had seated himself opposite to me, and we 
spoke about all sorts of subjects. Then we again 
dwelt upon Lord Byron, and touched upon the many 
misfortunes which had embittered his later life, until 
at last a noble will, but an unhappy destiny, drove him 
into Greece, and entirely destroyed him. 

“You will generally find,” continued Goethe, “that 
in his middle age a man frequently experiences a 
change ; and that, while in his youth everything has 
favoured him, and has prospered with him, all is now 
completely reversed, and misfortunes and disasters are 
heaped one upon another. 

“ But do you know my opinion on this matter? 
Man must be ruined again! Every extraordinary man 
has a certain mission which he is called upon to accom- 
plish. If he has fulfilled it, he is no longer needed 
upon earth in the same form, and Providence uses him 
for something else. But as everything here below 
happens in a natural way, the demons keep tripping 
him up till he falls at last. Thus it was with 
Napoleon and many others. Mozart died in his six- 
and-thirtieth year. Raphael at the same age. Byron 
only a little older. But all these had perfectly fulfilled 
their missions, and it was time for them to depart, that 

E 2 


52 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


other people might still have something to do in a’ 
world made to last a long while.” 

It was now late; Goethe gave me his dear hand, 
and I departed. 

(Sup.) Wednesday, March 12, 1828. 

After I had quitted Goethe yesterday evening, the 
important conversation I had carried on with him re- 
mained constantly in my mind. ‘The discourse had 
also been upon the sea and sea air; and Goethe had 
expressed the opinion, that he considered all islanders 
and inhabitants of the sea-shore in temperate climates 
far more productive, and possessed of more active force, 
than the people in the interior of large continents. 

Whether or not it was that I had fallen asleep with 
these thoughts, and with a certain longing for the in- 
spiring powers of the sea; suffice it to say, I had in 
the night the following pleasant, and to me very re- 
markable dream :— 

I saw myself in an unknown region, amongst 
strange men, thoroughly cheerful and happy. ‘The 
most beautiful summer day surrounded me in a charm- 
ing scene, such as might be witnessed somewhere on 
the shores of the Mediterranean, in the south of Spain 
or France, or in the neighbourhood of Genoa. We 
had been drinking at noon round a merry table, and I 
went with some others, rather young people, to make 
another party for the afternoon. 

We had loitered along through bushy and pleasant 
low lands, when we suddenly found ourselves in the 
‘sea, upon the smallest of islands, on a jutting rock, — 
where there was scarcely room for five or six men, and 
where one could not stir for fear of slipping into the 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 53 


water. Behind us, whence we had come, there was 
nothing to be seen but sea; but before us lay the shore 
at about a quarter of an hour’s distance, spread out 
most invitingly. The shore was in some places flat, 
in others rocky and somewhat elevated; and one might 
observe, between green leaves and white tents, a crowd 
of joyous men in light-coloured clothes, recreating 
themselves with music, which sounded from the tents. 
“There is nothing else to be done,” said one of 
us to the other, “‘we must undress and swim over.” 
“¢ It is all very well to say so,” said I, ‘‘ you are young, 
handsome fellows, and good swimmers; but I swim 
badly, and I do not possess a shape fine enough to ap- 
pear, with pleasure and comfort, before the strange 
people on shore.” ‘* You are a fool,” said one of the 
handsomest, ‘‘ undress yourself, give me your form 
and you shall have mine.” At these words I undressed 
myself quickly, and was soon in the water, and imme- 
diately found myself in the body of the other as a 
powerful swimmer. I soon reached the shore, and, 
naked and dripping, stepped with the most easy con- 
fidence amongst the men. I was happy in the sen- 
sation of these fine limbs ; my deportment was uncon- 
strained, and I at once became intimate with the 
strangers, at a table before an arbour, where there 
was a great deal of mirth. My comrades had now 
reached land one by one, and had joined us, and the 
only one missing was the youth with my form, in 
whose limbs I found myself so comfortable. At last 
he also approached the shore, and I was asked if I 
was not glad to see my former self? At these words 
I experienced a certain discomfort, partly because I did 


54 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


not expect any great joy from myself, and partly because 
I feared that my young friend would ask for his own 
body back again. However, I turned to the water, 
and saw my second self swimming close up to me, and 
laughing at me with his head turned a little on one side. 
“ There is no swimming with those limbs of yours,” 
exclaimed he, ‘‘ I have had a fine struggle against waves 
and breakers, and it is not to be wondered at that I 
have come so late, and am last of all.” I at once re- 
cognised the countenance ; it was my own, but grown 
young, and rather fuller and broader, with the freshest 
complexion. He now came to land, and whilst he raised 
himself, and first stepped along the sand, I had a view 
of his back and legs, and was delighted with the per- 
fection of the form. He came up the rocky shore to 
us, and as he came up to me he had completely my 
new stature. ‘* How is it,” thought I to myself, ‘ that 
your little body has grown so handsome. Have the 
primeval powers of the sea operated so wonderfully 
upon it, or is it because the youthful spirit of my friend 
has penetrated the limbs?” Whilst we enjoyed our- 
selves together for some time, I silently wondered that 
my friend did not show any inclination to resume his 
own body. “Truly,” thought I, “he looks bravely, 
and it may be a matter of indifference to him in which 
body he is placed, but it is not the same thing to me; 
for | am not sure whether in that body I may not 
shrink and become as diminutive as before.” In order 
to satisfy myself on this point, I took my friend aside, 
and asked him how he felt in my limbs? “ Perfectly 
well,” said he ; ‘‘ I have the same sensation of my own 
natural power as before; I do not know what you 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 55 


have to complain of in your limbs. They are quite 
right with me; and you see one only has to make the 
best of oneself. Remain in my body as long as you 
please ; for I am perfectly contented to remain in yours 
through all futurity.”” I was much pleased by this ex- 
planation, and as in all my sensations, thoughts, and 
recollections, I felt quite as usual, my dream gave me 
the impression of a perfect independence of the soul, 
and the possibility of a future existence in another 
body. 

“ That is a very pretty dream,” said Goethe, when, 
after dinner to-day, I imparted to him the principal 
features. ‘‘ We see,” continued he, ‘‘ that the muses 
visit you even in sleep, and, indeed, with particular 
favour ; for you must confess that it would be dificult 
for you to invent anything so peculiar and pretty in 
your waking moments.” 

“<I can scarcely conceive how it happened to me,” 
returned I; “ for I had felt so dejected all day that 
the contemplation of so fresh a life was far from my 
mind,” 

“Human nature possesses wonderful powers,” re- 
turned Goethe, ‘‘ and has something good in readiness 
for us when we least hope for it. “There have been 
times in my life when I have fallen asleep in tears ; 
but in my dreams the most charming forms have come 
to console and to cheer me, and I have risen the next 
morning fresh and joyful. 

“There is something more or less wrong among 
us old Europeans; our relations are far too artifi- 
cial and complicated, our nutriment and mode of life 
are without their proper nature, and our social inter- 


56 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


course is without proper love and good will. Every 
one is polished and courteous; but no one has the 
courage to be hearty and true, so that an honest man, 
with natural views and feelings, stands in a very bad 
position. Often one cannot help wishing that one 
had been born upon one of the South Sea Islands, a so- 
called savage, so as to have thoroughly enjoyed human 
existence in all its purity, without any adulteration. 

“< If in a depressed mood one reflects deeply upon the 
wretchedness of our age, it often occurs to one that the 
world is gradually approaching the last day. And the 
evil accumulates from generation to generation! For 
it is not enough that we have to suffer for the sins of 
our fathers, but we hand down to posterity these in- 
herited vices increased by our own.” 

‘¢ Similar thoughts often occur to me,” answered I ; 
“but if, at such a time, I see a regiment of German 
dragoons ride by me, and observe the beauty and power 
of these young people, I again derive some consolation, 
and say to myself, that the durability of mankind is after 
all not in such a desperate plight.” 

“Our country people,” returned Goethe, ‘ have 
certainly kept up their strength, and will, I hope, long 
be able not only to furnish us with good horsemen, 
but also to secure us from total decay and destruction. 
The rural population may be regarded as a magazine, 
from which the forces of declining mankind are always 
recruited and refreshed. But just go into our great 
towns, and you will feel quite differently. Just take 
a turn by the side of a second diable boiteux, or a 
physician with a large practice, and he will whisper to 
you tales which will horrify you at the misery, and 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 57 


astonish you at the vice with which human nature is 
visited, and from which society suffers. 

‘* But let us banish these hypochondriacal thoughts. 
How are you going on? What are you doing? What 
else have you seen to-day? ‘Tell me, and inspire me 
with good thoughts.” 

“ [ have been reading Sterne,” returned I, ‘* where 
Yorick is sauntering about the streets of Paris, and 
makes the remark that every tenth man is a dwarf. 
I thought of that when you mentioned the vices of 
great towns. I also remember to have seen, in 
Napoleon’s time, among the French infantry, one bat- 
talion which consisted entirely of Parisians, who were 
all such puny, diminutive people, that one could not 
comprehend what could be done with them in battle.” 

“The Scotch Highlanders under the Duke of Wel- 
lington,” rejoined Goethe, ‘* were doubtless heroes of 
another description.” 

‘¢T saw them in Brussels a year before the battle of 
Waterloo,” returned I. ‘ They were, indeed, fine 
men; all strong, fresh, and active, as if just from 
the hand of their Maker. ‘They all carried their heads 
so freely and gallantly, and stepped so lightly along with 
their strong bare legs, that it seemed as if there were 
no original sin, and no ancestral failing, as far as they 
were concerned.” 

“ There is something peculiar in this,” said Goethe. 
‘© Whether it lies in the race, in the soil, in the free 
political constitution, or in the healthy tone of education, 
—certainly, the English in general appear to have cer- 
tain advantages over many others. Here in Weimar, we 
see only a few of them, and, probably, by no means the 


58 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


best ; but what fine, handsome people they are. And 
however young they come here, they feel themselves 
by no means strange or embarrassed in this foreign 
atmosphere ; on the contrary, their deportment in 
society is as full of confidence, and as easy, as if they 
were lords everywhere, and the whole world belonged 
to them. This it is which pleases our women, and 
by which they make such havoc in the hearts of our 
young ladies. As a German father of a family, who is 
concerned for the tranquillity of his household, I often 
feel a slight shudder, when my daughter-in-law an- 
nounces to me the expected arrival of some fresh, 
young islander. I already see in my mind’s eye, the 
tears which will one day flow when he takes his de- 
parture. ‘They are dangerous young people ; but this 
very quality of being dangerous is their virtue.” 

“¢ Still, I would not assert,’’ answered I, ‘‘ that the 
young Englishmen in Weimar are more clever, more 
intelligent, better informed, or more excellent at heart 
than other people.” 

“The secret does not lie in these things, my good 
friend,” returned Goethe. ‘ Neither does it lie in 
birth and riches; it lies in the courage which they 
have to be that for which nature has made them. 
There is nothing vitiated or spoilt about them, there 
is nothing half-way or crooked ; but such as they are, 
they are thoroughly complete men. ‘That they are 
also sometimes complete fools, I allow with all my 
heart ; but that is still something, and has still always 
some weight in the scale of nature. 

“The happiness of personal freedom, the conscious- 
ness of an English name, and of the importance at- 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 59 


tached to it by other nations, is an advantage even to 
the children ; for in their own family, as well as in 
scholastic establishments, they are treated with far 
more respect, and enjoy a far freer development, than 
is the case with us Germans. 

‘<Tn our own dear Weimar, I need only look out at the 
window to discover how matters stand with us. Lately, 
when the snow was lying upon the ground, and my 
neighbour’s children were trying their little sledges in 
the street, the police was immediately at hand, and I 
saw the poor little things fly as quickly as they could. 
Now, when the spring sun tempts them from the 
houses, and they would like to play with their com- 
panions before the door, I see them always constrained, 
as if they were not safe, and feared the approach of 
some despot of the police. Not a boy may crack a 
whip, or sing or shout; the police is immediately at 
hand to forbid it. This has the effect with us all 
of taming youth prematurely, and of driving out all 
originality and all wildness, so that in the end nothing 
remains but the Philistine. 

“You know that scarcely a day passes in which I 
am not visited by some travelling foreigner. But if I 
were to say that I took great pleasure, in the personal 
appearance, especially of young, learned Germans from 
a certain north-eastern quarter, I should tell a false- 
hood. 

“‘ Short-sighted, pale, narrow-chested, young with- 
out youth; that is a picture of most of them as they 
appear to me. And if I enter into a conversation with 
any of them, I immediately observe that the things 
in which one of us takes pleasure seem to them vain 


60 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


and trivial, that they are entirely absorbed in the Idea, 
and that only the highest problems of speculation are 
fitted to interest them. Of sound senses or delight in 
the sensual, there is no trace; all youthful feeling and 
all youthful pleasure are driven out of them, and that 
irrecoverably ; for ifa man is not young in his twentieth 
year, how can he be so in his fortieth?” 

Goethe sighed and was silent. 

I thought of the happy time in the last century, 
in which Goethe’s youth fell; the summer air of 
Seesenheim passed before my soul, and I reminded 
him of the verses,— 


In the afternoon we sat, 
Young people, in the cool. 


“ Ah,” sighed Goethe, ‘ those were, indeed, happy 
times. But we will drive them from our minds, that 
the dark foggy days of the present may not become 
quite insupportable.”” 

“¢ A second Redeemer,” said I, “* would be required 
to remove from us the seriousness, the discomfort, and 
the monstrous oppressiveness of the present state of 
things.” 

“ If he came,” answered Goethe, “* he would be 
crucified a second time. Still, we by no means need 
anything so great. If we could only alter the Germans 
after the model of the English, if we could only have 
less philosophy and more power of action, less theory 
and more practice, we might obtain a good share of re- 
demption, without waiting for the personal majesty of a 
second Christ. Much may be done from below by the 
people by means of schools and domestic education ; 





EE 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 61 


much from above by the rulers and those in immediate 
connection with them. 

“Thus, for instance, I cannot approve the requi- 
sition, in the studies of future statesmen, of so much 
theoretically-learned knowledge, by which young people 
are ruined before their time, both in mind and body. 
When they enter into practical service, they possess, 
indeed, an immense stock of philosophical and learned 
matters ; but in the narrow circle of their calling, this 
cannot be practically applied, and must therefore be 
forgotten as useless. On the other hand, what they 
most needed they have lost; they are deficient in the 
necessary mental and bodily energy, which is quite 
indispensable when one would enter properly into 
practical life. 

<¢ And then, are not love and benevolence also needed 
in the life of a statesman,—in the management of men ? 
And how can any one feel and exercise benevolence 
towards another, when he is ill at ease with himself. 

“¢ But all these people are in a dreadfully bad case. 
The third part of the learned men and statesmen, 
shackled to the desk are ruined in body, and con- 
signed to the demon of hypochondria. Here there 
should be action from above, that future generations 
may at least be preserved from a like destruction. 

“In the mean time,” continued Goethe, smiling, 
“Jet us remain in a state of hopeful expectation as to 
the condition of us Germans a century hence, and 
whether we shall then have advanced so far as to be 
no longer savants and philosophers, but men.” 


62 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


(Sup.*) Friday, May 16, 1828. 
I took a drive with Goethe. He amused himself 


with recollections of his disputes with Kotzebue and — 


Co., and recited some very lively epigrams against the 
former, which were certainly more jocular than cutting. 
I asked him why he had not included them in his works. 

“¢] have a whole collection of such little poems,” 
returned Goethe, ‘* which I keep secret, and only show 
occasionally to my most intimate friends. This was 
the only innocent weapon which I had at command 
against the attacks of my enemies. I thus quietly 
found a vent by which I freed and purified myself from 
the horrid feeling of malevolence which I must other- 
wise have felt and fostered against the public and often 
malicious cavillings of my opponents. I have, there- 
fore, by these little poems done myself an essential 
and personal service; but I do not want to occupy the 
public with my private squabbles, or to injure any 
living person. In later times, some of these things may 
be brought out without hesitation.” 


(Sup.*) Friday, June 6, 1828. 

The King of Bavaria, some time ago, sent his court 
painter, Stieler, to Weimar, in order to take Goethe’s 
portrait. Stieler brought with him, as a sort of letter 
of introduction, and as a proof of his skill, a finished 
portrait, the size of life, of a very beautiful young lady, 
namely, the young Munich actress, Fraulein von Hagen. 
Goethe gave Stieler all the necessary sittings, and his 
portrait had now been finished for some days. 

To-day, I dined with himalone. At dessert he rose, 


Mh), 


EE ES CCS OC rr 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 63 


and conducting me into the cabinet adjoining the dining- 
room, showed me Stieler’s newly completed work. 
Then, very cautiously, he led me further on into the 
so-called Majolika chamber, where we saw the portrait 
of the beautiful actress. ‘‘’That is worth something,” 
said he, after we had observed it for some time, ‘is it 
not? Stieler was no fool. He employed this beau- 
tiful morsel as a bait for me, and whilst by such arts 
he induced me to sit, he flattered me with the hope that, 
under his pencil, another angel would appear, whilst he 
was only painting the head of an old man,” 


Sunday, June 15, 1828. 

We had not been long at table before Herr Seidel 
was announced, accompanied by the Tyrolese. The 
singers remained in the garden-room, so that we could 
see them perfectly through the open doors, and their 
song was heard to advantage from that distance. Herr 
Seidel sat down with us. These songs and the Gejo- 
del* of the cheerful Tyrolese, with their peculiar 
burden, delighted us young people. Fraulein Ulrica 
and I were particularly pleased with the ‘ Strauss,” 
and *¢ Du, du, liegst mir im Herzen,” and asked for a 
copy ofthem. Goethe seemed by no means so much 
delighted as we. 

“¢ One must ask children and birds,” said he, ** how 
cherries and strawberries taste.” 

Between the songs the Tyrolese played various 
national dances, on a sort of horizontal guitar, accom- 
panied by a clear-toned German flute. 

Young Goethe was called out, but soon returned and 


* The peculiar Tyrolese burden.—Trans. 


i) a 
A, . 


64 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


dismissed the Tyrolese. He sat down with us again. 
We talked of ‘“‘ Oberon,” and the great concourse of 
people who had come together from all quarters to 
see that opera; so that even at noon there were no 
more tickets to be got. Young Goethe proposed that 
we should leave the table. 

“Dear father,” said he, ‘ our friends will wish to 
go somewhat earlier to the theatre this evening.” 

Goethe thought such haste very odd, as it was 
scarcely four o’clock ; however, he made no opposition, 
and we dispersed through the apartments. Seidel came 
to me and some others, and said softly, and with a 
troubled brow, 

“You need anticipate no pleasure at the theatre; 
there will be no performance; the Grand Duke is 
dead ; he died on his journey hither from Berlin.” 

A general shock went through the company. Goethe 
came in; we went on as if nothing had happened, and 
talked of indifferent things. Goethe called me to the 
window, and talked about the Tyrolese and the theatre. 

*< You have my box to-day,” said he, ‘¢ and need not 
go till six; stay after the others, that we may have a 
little chat.” 

Young Goethe was trying to send the guests away, 
that he might break the news to his father before the 
return of the Chancellor, who had brought it to him. 
Goethe could not understand his son’s strange conduct, 
and seemed annoyed. 

“ Will you not stay for coffee?” said he; “it is 
scarcely four o’clock.” 

The others all departed ; and I, too, took my hat. 

“ What! are you going too?” said he, astonished. 


= 


oo Tey 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 65 


“Yes,” said young Goethe; ‘ Eckermann has 
something to do before going to the theatre.” ‘* Yes,” 
said I, “‘ I have something to do.” ‘Go along then,” 
said Goethe, shaking his head with a suspicious air ; 
“ still, I do not understand you.” 

We went with Fraulein Ulrica into the upper rooms, 
while young Goethe remained below, and communi- 
cated the sad tidings to his father. 





I saw Goethe late in the evening. Before I entered 
his chamber, I heard him sighing and talking aloud to 
himself: he seemed to feel that an irreparable rent had 
been torn in his existence. All consolation he refused, 
and would hear nothing of the sort. 

“T thought,” said he, ‘that I should depart before 
him ; but God disposes as he thinks best ; and all that 
we poor mortals have to do, is to endure and keep our- 
selves upright as well and as long as we can.” 





The Dowager Grand Duchess received the melan- 
choly news at her summer residence of Wilhelmsthal, 
the younger members of the family received it in 
Russia. Goethe went soon to Dornburg, to withdraw 
himself from daily saddening impressions, and to restore 
himself by fresh activity in a new scene. 

By important literary incitements on the part of the 
French, he had been once more impelled to his theory 
of plants; and this rural abode, where, at every step 
into the pure air, he was surrounded by the most lux- 
urious vegetation, in the shape of twining vines and 
sprouting flowers, was very favourable to such studies. 

I sometimes visited him there, in company with his 

VOL. II. F 


66 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


daughter-in-law and grandchildren. He seemed) very 
happy, and could not refrain from repeatedly express- 
ing his delight at the beautiful situation of the castle 
and gardens. 

And, indeed, there was, from windows at such a 
height, an enchanting prospect. Beneath was the 
variegated valley, with the Saale meandering through 
the meadows. On the opposite side, toward the east, 
were woody hills, over which the eye could wander 
afar, so that one felt that this situation was, in the day 
time, favourable to the observation of passing showers 
losing themselves in the distance, and at night to the 
contemplation of the eastern stars and the rising sun, 

“T enjoy here,” said Goethe, ‘both good days and 
good nights. Often before dawn I am already awake, 
and lie down by the open window, to enjoy the splen- 
dour of the three planets, which are at present to be 
seen together, and to refresh myself with the increas- 
ing brilliancy of the morning-red. I then pass almost 
the whole day in the open air, and hold spiritual com- 
munion with the tendrils of the vine, which say good 
things to me, and of which I could tell you wonders, 
I also write poems again, which are not bad, and, if it 
were permitted me, I should like always to remain in 
this situation.” 

Thursday, September 11, 1828. 

At two o’clock to-day, in the very finest weather, 
Goethe returned from Dornburg. He looked very 
well, and was quite browned by the sun. We soon 
sat down to dinner, in the chamber next the garden, 
the doors of which stood open. He told us of many 
visits and presents which he had received ; and seemed 


0g EL ———— se 


1828.] | CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 67 


to take pleasure in interspersing his conversation with 
light jests. If, however, one looked deeper, one 
could not but perceive a certain embarrassment, such 
as a person feels who returns to a former situation, 
conditioned by manifold relations, views, and requisi- 
tions. 

During the first course, a message came from the 
Dowager Grand Duchess, expressing her pleasure at 
Goethe’s return, and announcing that she would have 
the pleasure of visiting him on the following Tuesday. 

Since the death of the Grand Duke, Goethe had 
seen no member of the reigning family. He had, 
indeed, corresponded constantly with the Dowager 
Grand Duchess, so that they had sufficiently ex- 
pressed their feelings upon their common loss. Still, 
the personal interview could not but awake painful 
emotions, and could not be anticipated without some 
apprehension. Neither had Goethe yet seen the 
young Duke and Duchess, nor paid his homage to 
them as new rulers of the land. All this he had now 
to undergo, and even, though it could not disturb him 
as an accomplished man of the world, it was an impe- 
diment to his talent, which always loved to move in its 
innate directions, and in its own activity. Visits, too, 
threatened him from all parts. ‘The meeting at Berlin 
of celebrated natural philosophers had set in motion 
many important personages, who, passing through 
Weimar on their way, had, some of them, announced 
themselves, and were soon expected. Whole weeks 
of disturbance, which would take the inner sense out 
of its usual track, and other. annoyances connected 
with visits otherwise so valuable ;—all this was foreseen 

F2 


68 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


like a coming spectre by Goethe, when he again set his 
foot on the threshold, and paced his rooms. What 
made all these coming evils still worse, was a circum- 
stance which I cannot pass over. The fifth section 
of his works, which was to contain the ‘* Wander- 
jahre,” had been promised for the press at Christmas. 
Goethe had begun entirely to remodel this novel, 
which originally appeared in one volume, combining 
so much new matter with the old, that in the new 
edition it would occupy three volumes. 

Much is done, but there is also much todo. The 
manuscript has everywhere gaps of white paper, which 
are yet to be filled up. Here something is wanting to 
the introduction ; here is to be found a suitable link to 
render the reader less sensible that this is a collective 
work; here are fragments of great interest, some of 
which want a beginning, others an end; so that, 
altogether, there is much to do to all the three 
volumes, to make the important work at once at- 
tractive and graceful. 

Last spring Goethe gave me this manuscript to 
look over. We then both in words and writing dis- 
cussed the subject at great length. I advised him to 
devote the whole summer to the completion of this 
work, and to lay aside all others for the time. He 
was likewise convinced of the necessity of the case, 
and had resolved to do so; but the death of the Grand 
Duke had caused a gap in his existence ; the tranquillity 
and cheerfulness necessary to such a composition were 
not now to be thought of, and he needed all his strength 
merely to sustain the blow and revive from it. Now, 
when with the commencement of autumn, returning 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 69 


from Dornburg, he again paced the rooms of his 
Weimar residence, the thought of completing his 
*¢ Wanderjahre,” for which he had now only the space 
of a few months, came vividly before his mind, in con- 
flict with the various interruptions which awaited him, 
and impeded the free action of his talent. When all 
these matters are taken into consideration, I shall be 
understood when I say that Goethe was ill at ease 
within himself, although he jested lightly at dinner. 
I have another reason for mentioning these circum- 
stances, they are connected with an observation of 
Goethe’s, which appeared to me very remarkable, 
which expressed his situation and peculiar character, 
and of which I will now speak. 

Professor Abeken of Osnaburg had sent me, shortly 
before the 28th of August, an enclosure, requesting me 
to give it to Goethe on his birth-day, and saying it was 
a memorial relating to Schiller, which would certainly 
give him pleasure. When Goethe was speaking to- 
day, at dinner, of the various presents which had been 
sent to him at Dornburg in honour of his birth-day, 
I asked him what Abeken’s packet contained. 

“¢ It was a remarkable present,” said Goethe, ‘* which 
really gave me great pleasure. An amiable lady, with 
whom Schiller took tea, conceived the happy idea of 
writing down all he said. She comprehended it well, 
and related it with accuracy, and after so long a time, 
it still reads well, inasmuch as one is transplanted imme- 
diately into a situation which is now past by with a 
thousand others as interesting, while the living spirit of 
this one only has been felicitously caught and fixed upon 


paper. 


70 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


‘¢ Schiller appears here, as always, in perfect posses- 
sion of his sublime nature. He is as great at the tea- 
table as he would have been in a council of state. 
Nothing constrains him, nothing narrows him, nothing 
draws downward the flight of his thoughts ; the great 
views which lie within him are ever expressed freely 
and fearlessly. He was a true man, such as one ought 
to be. We others always feel ourselves subject to con- 
ditions. ‘The persons, the objects that surround us, 
have their influence upon us. The tea-spoon con- 
strains us, if it is of gold, when it should be of silver, 
and so, paralyzed by a thousand considerations, we 
do not succeed in expressing freely whatever may be 
great in our nature. .We are the slaves of objects 
round us, and appear little or important according as 
these contract or give us room to expand.” 

Goethe was silent. The conversation turned on 
other subjects ; but I continued to meditate on these 
important words, which had touched and expressed my 
own inmost soul. 

(Sup.*) Friday, September 26, 1828. 

Goethe showed me to-day his rich collection of 
fossils, which he keeps in the detached pavilion in his 
garden. ‘The collection. was begun by himself; but 
his son has greatly increased it; and it is particularly 
remarkable for a long series of petrified bones, all of 
which were found in the neighbourhood of Weimar. 


Wednesday, October 1, 1828. 
Herr Honninghausen of Crefeld, head of a great mer- 
cantile house, and also an amateur of natural science, 
especially mineralogy,—a man possessed of varied in- 


are 
a 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 71 


formation, through extensive travels and studies—dined 
with Goethe to-day. He had returned from the meet- 
ing of natural philosophers at Berlin, and a great deal 
was said about things connected with the subject, espe- 
cially mineralogical matters. 

There was also some talk about the Vulcanists, 
and the way in which men arrive at views and hypo- 
theses about nature. On this occasion, several great 
natural philosophers were mentioned, including Aris- 
totle, concerning whom Goethe spoke thus :— 

“ Aristotle observed nature better than any modern, 
but he was too hasty with his opinions. We must go 
slowly and gently to work with nature, if we would get 
anything out of her. 

“If, on investigating natural objects, I formed an 
opinion, I did not expect nature to concede the point 
at once, but I pursued her with observations and expe- 
riments, and was satisfied if she were kind enough to 
confirm my opinion when occasion offered. If she 
did not do this, she at any rate brought me to some 
other view, which I followed out, and which I perhaps 
found her more willing to confirm.” 


Friday, October 3, 1828. 
To-day. at dinner, I talked with Goethe about 
Fouqué’s “ Sangerkrieg auf der Wartburg,”* which I 
had read, in compliance with his wish. We agreed 
that this poet had spent his life in old-German studies, 
without drawing from them any real culture in the 
end. 


* The “ War of the Singers of the Wartburg” was a famous poetical 
contest in the days of the old Minnesingers.—Trans. 


72 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [ 1828. 


“From these old-German gloomy times,” said 
Goethe, “ we can obtain as little as from the Servian 
songs, and similar barbaric popular poetry. We can 
read it and be interested about it for a while, but merely 
to cast it aside, and let it lie behind us. Generally 
speaking, a man is quite sufficiently saddened by his 
own passions and destiny, and need not make himself 
more so, by the darkness of a barbaric past. He needs 
enlightening and cheering influences, and should there- 
fore turn to those eras in art and literature, during 
which remarkable men obtained perfect culture, so 
that they were satisfied with themselves, and able to 
impart to others the blessings of their culture. 

‘¢ But if you would have a good opinion of Fouqué, 
read his ‘ Undine,’ which is really charming. ‘The 
subject is, indeed, very good, and one cannot even 
say that the writer has done with it all that was pos- 
sible ; however, ‘ Undine’ is good, and will give you 
pleasure.” 

**T have been unfortunate in my acquaintance with 
the most modern German literature,” said I. ‘I came 
to the poems of Egon Ebert from Voltaire, whose 
acquaintance I had just made by those little poems 
which are addressed to individuals, and which certainly 
belong to the best he ever wrote. And now, I have 
fared no better with Fouqué. While deeply engaged 
in Walter Scott’s ¢ Fair Maid of Perth,’ the first work 
of this great writer which I had ever read, I am in- 
duced to put it aside, and give myself up to the 
‘ Sangerkrieg auf der Wartburg.’ ” 

‘¢ Against these great foreigners,” said Goethe, ‘ the 
modern Germans certainly cannot keep their ground ; 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 73 


but it is desirable that you should, by degrees, make 
yourself acquainted with all writers, foreign and domes- 
tic, that you may see how that higher world-culture, 
which the poet needs, is really to be obtained.” 

Frau von Goethe came in, and sat down to the table 
with us. 

“¢ But,” continued Goethe, with animation, ‘¢ Walter 
Scott’s ‘Fair Maid of Perth’ is excellent, is it not? 
There is finish! there is a hand! What a firm foun- 
dation for the whole, and in particulars not a touch 
which does not lead to the catastrophe! Then, what 
details of dialogue and description, both of which are 
excellent, 

““ His scenes and situations are like pictures by 
Teniers ; in the arrangement they show the summit 
of art, the individual figures have a speaking truth, and 
the execution is extended with artistical love to the 
minutest details, so that not a stroke is lost. How far 
have you read?” 

‘“‘T have come,” said I, “to the passage where 
Henry Smith carries the pretty minstrel girl home 
through the streets, and round about lanes ; and where, 
to his great vexation, Proudfoot and Dwining met 
him.” 

“ Ah,” said Goethe, ‘that is excellent; that the 
obstinate, honest blacksmith should be brought at last 
to take with him not only the suspicious maiden, but 
even the little dog, is one of the finest things to be 
found in any novel. It shows a knowledge of human 
nature, to which the deepest mysteries are revealed.” 

“It was also,” said I, “an admirable notion to make 
the heroine’s father a glover, who, by his trade in skins, 


74 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


must have been long in communication with the High- - 
landers.” 

“Yes,” said Goethe, ‘that is a touch of the highest 
order. From this circumstance spring the relations 
and situations most favourable for the whole book, and 
these by this means also obtain a real basis, so that 
they have an air of the most convincing truth. You 
find everywhere in Walter Scott a remarkable security 
and thoroughness in his delineation, which proceeds 
from his comprehensive knowledge of the real world, 
obtained by life-long studies and observations, and a 
daily discussion of the most important relations. ‘Then 
come his great talent and his comprehensive nature. 
You remember the English critic, who compares the 
poets to the voices of male singers, of which some can 
command only a few fine tones, while others have the 
whole compass, from the highest to the lowest, com- 
pletely in their power. Walter Scott is one of this 
last sort. In the ‘ Fair Maid of Perth,’ you will not 
find a single weak passage to make you feel as if his 
knowledge and talent were insufficient. He is equal 
to his subject in every direction in which it takes him ; 
the king, the royal brother, the prince, the head of the 
clergy, the nobles, the magistracy, the citizens and 
mechanics, the Highlanders, are all drawn with the 
same sure hand, and hit off with equal truth.” 

“<The English,” said Frau von Goethe, “ particularly 
like the character of Henry Smith, and Walter Scott 
seems to have made him the hero of the book; how- 
ever, he is not my favourite ; I like the Prince.” 

“The Prince,” said I, “is, indeed, amiable enough 
with all his wildness, and is as well drawn as any of the 
rest.”” 


OO ——————— —_— — 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 75 


> 


“ The passage,’ said Goethe, ‘ where, sitting on 
horseback, he makes the pretty minstrel girl step upon 
his foot, that he may raise her up for a kiss, is in the 
boldest English style. But you ladies are wrong always 
to take sides. Usually, you read a book to find nutri- 
tion for the heart; to find a hero whom you could 
love. ‘This is not the way to read; the great point is, 
not whether this or that character pleases, but whether 
the whole book pleases.” 

‘¢'We women were made so, dear father,” said she, 
affectionately leaning over the table to press his hand. 

“ Well, we must let you have your own way in your 
amiability,” replied Goethe. 

The last number of the ‘* Globe” lay by him, and he 
took it up. I talked, in the mean while, with Frau 
von Goethe, about some young Englishmen, whose ac- 
quaintance I had made at the theatre. 

‘¢ What men these writers in the ‘ Globe are re- 
sumed Goethe, with animation. ‘ One has scarcely a 
notion how it is they become greater and more remark- 
able every day, and how much, as it were, they are 
imbued with one spirit. Such a paper would be utterly 
impossible in Germany. We are mere individuals ; 
harmony and concert are not to be thought of; each 
has the opinions of his province, his city, and his own 
idiosyncracy ; and it will be a long while before we 
have attained an universal culture.” 


1?» 


(Sup.*) Monday, October 6, 1828. 
Dined with Goethe, in company with Herr von 
Martius, who has been here for some days, and 
who spoke with Goethe on botanical subjects. It is 


76 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


especially the spiral tendency of plants, about which 
Herr von Martius has made important discoveries ; 
these he imparted to Goethe, to whom they open a 
new field. Goethe appeared to take up his friend’s 
idea with a sort of youthful ardour. ‘‘ For the physio- 
logy of plants,” said he, ‘‘ much is gained by it. The 
new discovery of the spiral tendency is thoroughly con- 
formable to my doctrine of metamorphoses ; it has been 
found on the same path, but is a considerable step in 
advance of it.” 
Tuesday, October 7, 1828. 

There was the most lively party at dinner to-day. 
Besides the Weimar friends, there were some natural 
philosophers returned from Berlin, among whom, Herr 
von Martius, from Munich, who sat next Goethe, 
was known to me. There was joking and conversa- 
tions on the most various subjects. Goethe was par- 
ticularly good-humoured and communicative. The 
theatre was then talked about, and much was said of 
the opera last given—Rossini’s ‘‘Moses.” ‘They 
found fault with the subject, and both praised and 
found fault with the music. 

Goethe said, “I do not understand how you can 
separate the subject from the music, and enjoy each by 
itself. You say the subject is not a good one; but 
you can set that aside, and enjoy the excellent music. 
I really admire this arrangement in your natures, by 
which your ears are able to listen to pleasant sounds, 
while the most powerful sense, vision, is tormented by 
the absurdest objects. And that this ‘ Moses,’ is absurd, 
you will not deny. When the curtain rises you see 
the people standing at prayer. This is very wrong. 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 77 


It is written ‘ When thou prayest, go into thy closet, 
and shut the door.” But there ought to be no praying 
on the stage. 

“JT would have made a wholly different ‘ Moses,’ 
and have begun the piece quite otherwise. I would 
have first shown you how the children of Israel in their 
hard bondage suffered from the tyranny of the Egyp- 


tian task-masters, in order to render more conspicuous 


the merit of Moses in freeing his people from this 


shameful oppression.” 

Goethe then cheerfully went through the whole 
opera step by step, through all the scenes and acts, 
full of life and intelligence, and with a historical feel- 
ing for the subject, to the delighted astonishment of 
the whole company, who could not but admire the 
irrepressible flow of his thoughts, and the wealth of his 
invention. It passed before me too quickly for me to 
seize it; but I remember the dance of the Egyptians, 
which Goethe introduced to express their joy at the 
return of light, after the darkness had been overcome. 

The conversation turned from Moses to the deluge, 
and took a scientific turn. 

“Jt is said,” observed Herr von Martius, “ they 
have found on Ararat, a petrified piece of Noah’s ark, 
and I shall be surprised if they do not also find petrified 
skulls of the first men.” 

This remark led to others of a similar kind, and the 
conversation turned upon the various races of men— 
how as black, brown, yellow, and white, they inhabit 
the different countries of the earth. The question 
finally arose whether we ought to assume that all men 
are descended from the single pair, Adam and Eve. 


/ 


78 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


Von Martius was for the biblical account, which he 
sought to confirm by the maxim, that nature goes to 
work as economically as possible in her productions. 

*¢ T cannot agree to that opinion,” said Goethe ; “I 
maintain rather that nature is always lavish, even pro- 
digal ; and that it would show more acquaintance with 
her to believe she has, instead of one paltry pair, pro- 
duced men by dozens or hundreds. 

“When the earth had arrived at a certain point of 
maturity, the water had ebbed away, and the dry land. 
was sufficiently verdant, came the epoch for the crea- 
tion of man, and men arose, through the omnipotence 
of God, wherever the ground permitted; perhaps on 
the heights first. 

“< To believe that this happened I esteem reasonable; 
but to attempt to decide how it happened I deem an 
useless trouble, which we will leave to those who like 
to busy themselves with insolvable problems, and have 
nothing better to do.” 

“Even,” said Herr von Martius, archly, “if I 
could, as a naturalist, willingly yield to your excellency’s 
opinion, I should, as a good Christian, find some diffi- 
culty in adopting a view which cannot well be recon- 
ciled with the account given us in the Bible.” 

“Holy writ,” replied Goethe, ‘* speaks, certainly, 
only of one pair of human beings, whom God made 
on the sixth day ; but the gifted men who wrote down 
the Word of God, as recorded in the Bible, had first 
in view their own chosen people; and as far as that 
people is concerned, we will not dispute the honour of 
a descent from Adam and Eve. But we, as well as 
the Negroes and Laplanders, and slender men, who are 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 79 


handsomer than any of us, had certainly different 
ancestors ; and this worthy company must confess that 
we at present differ in a variety of particulars from the 
genuine descendants of Adam, and that they, especially 
where money is concerned, are superior to us all.” 

We laughed; the conversation became general, 
Goethe, excited by Von Martius to argument, said 
many interesting things, which, under the appearance 
of jesting, had a deeper meaning at bottom. 

After dinner, the Prussian minister, Herr von 
Jordan, was announced, and we went into the next 
room. 

Wednesday, October 8, 1828. 

Tieck, returning from a journey to the Rhine, with 
his wife, his daughters, and Countess Finkenstein, was 
expected to dine with Goethe to-day. I met them in 
the ante-room. ‘Tieck looked very well; the Rhine 
baths seemed to have had a favourable effect upon him. 
I told him that since I had seen him I had been read- 
ing Sir Walter Scott’s new novel, and what pleasure 
this extraordinary talent had given me. 

“JT suspect,” said Tieck, ‘that this last novel of 
Scott’s, which I have not yet read, is the best he has 
ever written ; however, he is so great a writer, that 
the first work of his which you read always excites 
astonishment, approach him on what side you will.” 

Professor Géttling came in, just fresh from his 
Italian tour. I was extremely glad to see him again, 
and drew him to a window that he might tell me what 
he had seen. 

“To Rome!” said he; ‘‘ you must to Rome, if 
you would become anything! ‘That is indeed a city! 


80 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1828. 


that is a life! that is a world! Whatever is small in 
our nature cannot be eradicated while we are in Ger- 
many, but as soon as we enter Rome a transformation 
takes place in us, and we feel ourselves great, like the 
objects which surround us.” 

“Why,” said I, ‘did you not stay there longer ?” 

“‘ My money and my leave of absence were at an 
end,” he replied ; ‘ but I felt very uncomfortable when 
I again crossed the Alps, leaving fair Italy behind me.” 

Goethe came in, and greeted his guests. He talked 
on various subjects with Tieck and his family, and 
then offered the countess his arm to take her to the 
dining-room. We followed, and when we took our 
seats at the table made a motley group. The conver- 
sation was lively and unconstrained, but I remember 
little of what was said. 

After dinner, the Princes von Oldenburg were 
announced. We then went up to Frau von Goethe’s 
apartment, where Fraulein Agnes Tieck seated herself 
at the piano, and gave us the song *‘ Im Felde schleich’ 
ich still und wild,” with a fine alto voice, and so 
thoroughly in the spirit of the situation, that it made 
quite an ineffaceable impression on the mind. 


Thursday, October 9, 1828. 

I dined to-day with Goethe and Frau von Goethe 
alone; and as it often happens that a conversation 
begun on one day is continued on another, so was it on 
this occasion. Rossini’s ‘* Moses” was again spoken 
of, and we recalled with pleasure Goethe’s lively inven- 
tion the day before yesterday. 

“What I said, in the merriment and good-humour 


— . a oe Ne | 


1828.] . | CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 81 


of the moment, about ‘ Moses,’” said he, “ I cannot 


recall ; for such things are done quite unconsciously. 
But of this I am certain, that I cannot enjoy an opera 
unless the story is as perfect as the music, so that the 
two may keep pace one with another. If you ask 
what opera I consider good, I would name the * Was- 
sertrager” (Water-Carrier) ; for here the subject is so 
perfect, that, if given as a mere drama, without music, 
it could be seen with pleasure. Composers either do 
not understand the importance of a good foundation, or 
they have not intelligent poets who know to assist 
them with good stories. If * Der Freischiitz’ had 
not been so good a subject, the mere music would 
hardly have drawn such crowds; and therefore Herr 
Kind should have some share in the honour.” 

After various discussion on this subject, we spoke 
of Professor Géttling, and his travels in Italy. 

“T cannot blame the good man,” said Goethe, ‘ for 
speaking of Italy with such enthusiasm ; I well know 
what I experienced myself. Indeed, I may say that only 
in Rome have I felt what it really is to be aman, To 
this elevation, to this happiness of feeling, I have never 
since arisen; indeed, compared with my situation at 
Rome, I have never since felt real gladness.” 

“ But,” continued Goethe, after a pause, ‘* we will 
not give ourselves up to melancholy thoughts. How 
do you get on with your ‘ Fair Maid of Perth?? How 
far have you read? ‘Tell me all about it.” = - 

“] read slowly,” said I. ‘* However, I am now as 
far as the scene where Proudfoot, when in Henry 
Smith’s armour he imitates his walk and whistle, is 
slain, and on the following morning is found in the 

VOL, Il. G 


82 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


streets of Perth by the citizens, who, taking him for 
Smith, raise a great alarm through the city.” 

*« Ay,” said Goethe, ‘‘ that scene is remarkable ; it 
is one of the best.” 

“J have been particularly struck,” said I, ‘* with 
Walter Scott’s great talent for disentangling confused 
situations, so that the whole separates itself into masses 
and quiet pictures, which leave on our minds an im- 
pression as if, like omniscient beings, we had looked 
down and seen events which were occurring at the 
same time in various places.” 

“ Generally,” said Goethe, “ he shows great under- 
standing of art; for which reason we, and those like 
us, who always particularly look to see how things 
are done, find a double interest and the greatest profit 
in his works, 

“J will not anticipate, but you will find in the 
third volume an admirable contrivance. You have 
already seen how the prince in council makes the wise 
proposal to let the rebel Highlanders destroy one 
another in combat, and how Palm Sunday is appointed 
for the day when the hostile clans are to come down 
to Perth, and to fight for life or death, thirty against 
thirty. You will see with admiration how Scott 
manages to make one man fail on one side on the deci- 
sive day, and with what art he contrives to bring his 
hero Smith from a distance into the vacant place among 
the combatants. This is admirably done; and you will 
be delighted when you come to it. 

« But, when you have finished the ‘ Fair Maid 
of Perth,’ you must at once read * Waverley,’ which is 
indeed from quite a different point of view, but which 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 83 


may, without hesitation, be set beside the best works 
that have ever been written in this world. We see 
that it is the same man who wrote the ‘ Fair Maid of 
Perth,’ but that he has yet to gain the favour of the 
public, and therefore collects his forces so that he may 
not give a touch that is short of excellence. The 
‘ Fair Maid of Perth,’ on the other hand, is from a 
freer pen ; the author is now sure of his public, and he 
proceeds more at liberty. After reading ‘ Waverley,’ 
you will understand why Walter Scott still designates 
himself the author of that work ; for there he showed 
what he could do, and he has never since written anything 
to surpass, or even equal, that first published novel.” 


Thursday evening, October 9, 1828. 

In honour of Tieck, a very pleasant tea-party was 
given this evening in the apartments of Frau von 
Goethe. I made the acquaintance of Count and 
Countess Medem. ‘The latter told me that she had 
seen Goethe to-day, and had been highly delighted with 
the impression he had made. ‘The count was especially 
interested about “* Faust” and its continuation, and 
conversed with me about it for some time with much 
animation. 

We had hoped that Tieck would read something 
aloud, and he did so. The party retired into a more 
remote room, and after all had comfortably seated 
themselves in a wide circle on chairs and sofas, he read 
“ Clavigo.” 

I had often read and felt this drama; but now it ap- 
peared to me quite new, and produced an effect such as I 
had scarcely experienced before. It seemed as if I heard 

G 2 


84 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


it from the stage, only better; every character and 
situation was more perfectly felt: it produced the im- 
pression of a theatrical representation in which each 
part is well performed. 

It would be hard to say what parts Tieck read best ; 
whether those in which the powers and passions of the 
male characters are developed; or the quiet clear 
scenes addressed to the understanding; or the mo- 
ments of tortured love. For giving expression to 
passages of this last sort, he had especial qualifications. 
The scene between Marie and Clavigo is still ringing 
in my ears; the oppressed bosom; the faltering and 
trembling of the voice ; the broken half-stifled words 
and sounds; the panting and sighing of a hot breath, 
accompanied with tears ;—all this is still present with 
me, and will never be forgotten. Every one was 
absorbed in listening, and wholly carried away. The 
lights burned dim; nobody thought of that, or ven- 
turned to snuff them, for fear of the slightest interrup- 
tion. ‘Tears constantly dropping from the eyes of the 
ladies showed the deep effect of the piece, and were 
the most hearty tribute that could be paid to the reader 
or the poet. 

Tieck had finished, and rose, wiping the perspiration 
from his forehead ; but the hearers seemed still fettered 
to their chairs. Each man appeared too deeply engaged 
with what had just been passing through his soul, to 
have ready the suitable words of gratitude for him who 
had produced so wonderful an effect upon us all. Gra- 
dually, however, we recovered ourselves. “Che com- 
pany arose, and talked cheerfully with one another. 
Then we partook of a supper which stood ready on 
little tables in the adjoining rooms. 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 85 


Goethe himself was not present this evening ; but 
his spirit and a remembrance of him were living among 
us all. He sent an apology to Tieck; and to his 
daughters, Agnes and Dorothea, two handkerchief- 
pins, with his own picture and red ribbons, which Frau 
von Goethe gave them, and fastened to their dresses 
like little orders. 

Friday, October 10, 1828. 

From Mr. William Frazer of London, editor of the 
“Foreign Review,” I received, this morning, two 
copies of the third number of that periodical, and 
gave one of them to Goethe at dinner. 

I found again a pleasant dinner party, invited in 
honour of ‘Tieck and the Countess, who, at the urgent 
request of Goethe and their other friends, had remained 
another day, the rest of the family having set off in the 
morning for Dresden. 

At table a special subject of conversation was Eng- 
lish literature, and particularly Walter Scott, on which 
occasion Tieck said, that he brought to Germany the 
first copy of Waverley ten years ago. 


Saturday, October 11, 1828. 

The above-mentioned number of the “ Foreign 
Review” contained, with a variety of other important 
and interesting articles, a very fine essay by Carlyle, 
upon Goethe, which I studied this morning. 

I went to Goethe a little earlier to dinner, that I. 
might have an opportunity of talking this over with 
him before the arrival of the other guests. I found 
him, as I wished, still alone, expecting the company. 
He wore his black coat and star, with which I so 


86 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828, 


much like to see him. He appeared to-day in quite 
youthful spirits, and we began immediately to speak 
on topics interesting to both. Goethe told me that he 
likewise had been looking at Carlyle’s article this morn- 
ing, and thus we were both in a position to exchange 
commendations of these foreign attempts. 

“Tt is pleasant to see,” said Goethe, ‘how the 
earlier pedantry of the Scotch has changed into earnest- 
ness and profundity. When I recollect how the 
‘Edinburgh Reviewers’ treated my works not many 
years since, and when I now consider Carlyle’s merits 
with respect to German literature, I am astonished at 
the important step for the better.” 

“In Carlyle,” said I, “*1 venerate most of all the 
mind and character which lie at the foundation of his 
tendencies. ‘The chief point with him is the culture 
of his own nation ; and, in the literary productions of 
other countries, which he wishes to make known to 
his contemporaries, he pays less attention to the arts of 
talent, than to the moral elevation which can be attained 
through such works.” 

“Yes,” said Goethe, ‘‘the temper in which he 
works is always admirable. What an earnest man he 
is! and how he has studied us Germans! He is 
almost more at home in our literature than ourselves. 
At any rate, we cannot vie with him in our researches 
in English literature.” 

“The article,” said I, “is written with a fire and 
impressiveness which show that there are many pre- 
judices and contradictions to contend with in England. 
¢ Wilhelm Meister’ especially seems to have been placed 
in an unfavourable light by malevolent critics and bad 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 87 


translators. Carlyle, on the contrary, behaves very 


well. To the stupid objection that no virtuous lady 


could read ‘ Wilhelm Meister,’ he opposes the example 
of the late Queen of Prussia, who made herself familiar 
with the book, and was rightly esteemed one of the 
first women of her time.” 

Some of the guests came in now, whom Goethe 
received. He then turned to me again, and I con- 
tinued. 

“¢ Carlyle has, indeed,” said I, ‘* studied ‘ Meister,’ 
and being so thoroughly penetrated with its value, he 
would like to see it universally circulated,—would 
like to see every cultivated mind receive similar profit 
and enjoyment.” 

Goethe drew me to a window to answer me. 

“My dear young friend,” said he, “I will confide 
to you something which may help you on a great deal. 
My works cannot be popular. He who thinks and 
strives to make them so is in error, ‘They are not 
written for the multitude, but only for individuals who 
desire something congenial, and whose aims are like 
my own.” 

He wished to say more; but a young lady who came 
up interrupted him, and drew him into conversation. 
I turned to the others, and soon afterwards we sat 
down to table, 

I could pay no attention to the conversation that was 
going on; Goethe’s words were impressed upon me, 
and entirely occupied my mind. 

‘¢ Really,” thought I, ‘¢ a writer like him, an intellect 
so exalted, a nature so comprehensive, how can he be 
popular? Can even a small part of him be popular? 


88 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


even those songs which convivial companies or ena- 
moured maidens sing, and which again are not for others? 

“ And, rightly regarded, is not this the case with 
everything extraordinary? Is Mozart, is Raphael 
popular? and is not the relation of the world towards 
these great fountains of overflowing spiritual life like 
that of some dainty person, who is pleased now and 
then to snatch up a little that may for a while afford 
higher enjoyment. 

“Yes,” I continued, in my own mind, ‘ Goethe is 
right. He cannot be popular to his full extent; his 
works are only for individuals who desire something 
congenial, and whose pursuits are like his own. ‘They 
are for contemplative natures, who wish to penetrate 
into the depths of the world and human nature, and 
follow in his path. They are for those susceptible 
of passionate enjoyment, who seek in the poet the bliss 
and woe of the heart. ‘They are for young poets who 
would learn how to express their feelings, and how to 
treat a subject artistically. They are for critics, who 
find there a model for the best rules of judgment, and 
also for the means of making a criticism interesting and 
attractive, so that it may be read with pleasure. 

*‘His works are for the artist, inasmuch as they 
enlighten his mind generally, and teach him particularly 
what subjects are suited to works of art; what he 
should use, and what leave aside. ‘They are for the 
observer of nature, not only because great laws are 
discovered and taught him, but, still more, because 
they give him the method by which the intellect must 
proceed with nature to make her reveal her mysteries. 


“In short, all those who are making efforts in. 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 89 


science or art, may be guests at the richly-provided 
banquet of his works, and in their productions bear 
witness to the great general source of light and life 
from which they have drawn.” 

These and similar thoughts were in my head all 
dinner-time. I thought of individuals, of many a good 
German artist, of natural philosophers, poets, and 
critics, who owed to Goethe a great part of their 
culture. I thought of intellectual Italians, Frenchmen, 
and Englishmen, who have their eyes upon him, and 
who have worked in his spirit. 

In the mean while, all around me were jesting and 
talking, and partaking of the good fare. I spoke now 
and then a word, but without exactly knowing what I 
said. A lady put a question to me, to which, it seems, 
I did not render a very appropriate answer : they all 
laughed at me. 

“Tet Eckermann alone,” said Goethe. ‘ He is. 
always absent, except when he is at the theatre.” 

They laughed at me again; but I did not regard it. 
I felt myself, to-day, peculiarly happy. I blessed my 
fate, which, after many singular dispensations, had asso- 
ciated me with the few who enjoy the conversation and 
intimacy of a man whose greatness I had deeply felt 
only a few moments since, and whom I now had per- 
sonally before my eyes, in all his amiability. 

Biscuits and some very fine grapes were brought for 
dessert, The latter had been sent from a distance, and 
Goethe would not say whence they came. He divided 
them, and handed me a very ripe branch across the table. 

“« Here, my good friend,” said he, ‘¢ eat these sweets, 
and much good may they do you.” 


go CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


I highly enjoyed the grapes from Goethe’s hand, and 
was now quite near him both in body and soul. 

They talked of the theatre, and of Wolff's great 
merits, and of what had been done by that excellent 
artist, 

<I know very well,” said Goethe, “ that our earlier 
actors learned much from me, but I can properly call 
none but Wolff my pupil. I will give you an instance, 
which I am very fond of repeating, to show how 
thoroughly he was penetrated with my principles, and 
how fully he acted in my spirit. I was once very angry 
with Wolff for various reasons. He played one even- 
ing, and I was sitting in my box. ‘Now,’ thought I 
to myself, ‘ you can keep a sharp look out upon him ; 
for there is not, to-day, a spark of affection within you, 
which can speak out for him and excuse him. Wolff 
acted, and I kept my sharp eye fixed upon him. And 
how did he act! How safe—how firm he was! It 
was impossible to find out in him even the shadow of 
an offence against the rules which I had implanted in 
him, and I saw that a reconciliation with him was in- 
evitable.’ ” 


(Sup.*) Friday, October 17, 1828. 

Goethe has, for some time past, been reading the 
“* Globe” very eagerly, and he often makes this paper 
the subject of his conversation. The endeavours of 
Cousin and his school appear to him especially im- 
portant. 

«These men,” said he, ‘are quite on the way to 
effect an approximation between France and Germany, 
inasmuch as they form a language which is entirely 


2 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. gI 


fitted to facilitate the interchange of ideas between the 
two nations.” . 

The “Globe” has also a particular interest for 
Goethe, because the newest productions in French 
belles lettres are reviewed, and the freedom of the 
romantic school, or rather the emancipation from the 
fetters of unmeaning rules, is often defended in a very 
animated manner. 

* What is the use of the whole lumber of rules 
belonging to a stiff antiquated time,” said he to-day, 
‘¢ and what is the use of all the noise about classical and 
romantic! ‘The point is for a work to be thoroughly 
good and then it is sure to be classical.” 


Monday, October 20, 1828. 

Oberbergrath* Noeggerath of- Bonn, on his return 
from the meeting of natural philosophers at Berlin, 
was a very welcome guest to-day at Goethe’s table. 
There was much talk about mineralogy, and the worthy 
stranger gave us some profound information about 
the mineralogical phenomena in the neighbourhood of 
Bonn. 

After dinner we went into the room where there is 
the colossal bust of Juno. Goethe shewed the guests 
a long slip of paper, with outlines of the frieze of the 
temple at Phigalia. While we were looking at these, 
the remark was made that the Greeks, in representing 
animals, adhered less to nature than to certain con- 
ventional rules, and there was an attempt to prove, that 
in representations of this kind they are inferior to nature, 


* Literally “* Upper-Mine-Councillor””—a superior officer in a mining 
office. —Trans. 


92 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


and that their rams, oxen, and horses, as they appear 
in bas-relief, are often very stiff, shapeless, and im- 
perfect creatures. 

*«T will not dispute with you about that point,” 
said Goethe ; ‘¢ but before all things, we must distinguish 
the time and the artist from which such works proceed. 
For numbers of masterpieces have been found, in which 
the Greek artists, in representing animals, have not 
only equalled, but even far surpassed nature. ‘The 
English, who understand horses better than any nation 
in the world, are now compelled to acknowledge that 
two antique heads of horses are more perfect in their 
forms than those of any race now existing upon earth. 

“¢ These heads are from the best Greek period, and 
while we are astonished at such works, we should not 
so much infer that the artists have copied from a 
more perfect nature than we now possess, as that they 
themselves had become of some value in the progress 
of art, so that they turned to nature with their own 
personal greatness.” 

While all this was said, I stood on one side, looking 
at an engraving with a lady, at one of the tables, and 
could only lend half an ear to Goethe’s words ; but so 
much the deeper did they sink into my mind. 

After the company had gradually departed, and I 
was alone with Goethe, who stood by the stove, I ap- 
proached him. 

*¢ Your excellency,” said I, “* made an excellent re- 
mark a little while ago, when you said that the Greeks 
turned to nature with their own greatness, and I think 
that we cannot be too deeply penetrated with this 
maxim.” 





1s 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 93 


“ Yes, my good friend,” said Goethe, “all depends 
upon this; one must be something in order to do 
something, Dante seems to us great ; but he had the 
culture of centuries behind him. The house of Roth- 
schild is rich; but it has taken more than one gene- 
ration to accumulate such treasures. All these things 
lie deeper than is thought. 

“Our worthy artists who imitate the old German 
school know nothing of all this ; they proceed to the 
imitation of nature with their own personal weakness 
and artistic incapacity, and fancy they are doing some- 
thing. They stand below nature. But whoever will 
produce anything great, must so improve his culture 
that, like the Greeks, he will be able to elevate the mere 
trivial actualities of nature to the level of his own mind, 
and really carry out that which, in natural phenomena, 
either from internal weakness or external obstacles, re- 
mains a mere intention.” 


Wednesday, October 22, 1828. 

To-day at dinner we talked about ladies, and Goethe 
expressed himself very beautifully. ‘* Women,” said 
he, “are silver dishes into which we put golden apples. 
My idea of women is not abstracted from the pheno- 
mena of actual life, but has been born with me, or 
arisen in me, God knows how. ‘The female cha- 
racters which I have drawn, have therefore all turned 
out well; they are all better than could be found in 
reality. 


(Sup.) Thursday, October 23, 1828. 
Goethe spoke to-day with great respect of a little 
paper of the Chancellor’s, on the subject of the Grand- 


94 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


Duke Charles Augustus, which reviews, in a short 
compass, the active life of this remarkable prince. 

“He has been very happy with this little work,” 
said Goethe; ‘the materials are brought together 
with great circumspection and care; then all is 
animated with the breath of the heartiest love, while 
at the same time the style is so close that one act 
follows immediately upon another, and we almost 
feel a mental giddiness in the contemplation of such 
fulness of life and action. The Chancellor has also 
sent his work to Berlin, and received some time ago a 
highly remarkable letter from Alexander von Humboldt, 
which I could not read without deep emotion. Hum- 
boldt was on the most intimate terms with the Grand- 
Duke during a long life ; which certainly is not to be 
wondered at, since the profound and highly endowed 
nature of the Prince was always athirst for fresh know- 
ledge, and Humboldt, with his. great universality, was 
just the man to be always ready with the best and pro- 
foundest answer to every question. 

“ Now, it is a singular fact that the Grand-Duke 
passed the very last days before his death at Berlin, 
in almost constant intercourse with Humboldt, and 
that he was at last able to obtain from his friend 
the solution of many important problems which lay 
upon his heart. Further, the circumstance that 
one of the greatest princes whom Germany had ever 
possessed had such a man as Humboldt to witness 
his last days and hours, could not fail of producing a 
favourable effect. I have made a copy of the letter, 
and will impart some passages to you.” 

Goethe rose and went to his desk, whence he took 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 95 


the letter, and then reseated himself at the table. He 
read for some time in silence. I saw tears in his eyes. 
*« Read it for yourself,”’ said he, whilst he handed it to 
me. He rose and walked up and down the room 
whilst I read :— 

‘“¢ Who could have been more shocked at the sudden 
departure of the illustrious deceased,” writes Hum- 
boldt, ‘*than I, whom he treated during thirty years 
with such kind distinction, I may say with such sin- 
cere predilection. Even here he would have me near 
him almost every hour ; and as if this great brightness, 
as with the lofty snow-capped Alps, were the fore- 
runner of departing light, never have I seen the great 
humane prince more animated, more intelligent, more 
mild, more sympathizing with the further development 
of the people, than in the last days when we had him 
here. I frequently said to my friends, anxiously and 
full of misgivings, that this animation, this mysterious 
clearness of intellect, combined with so much bodily 
weakness, was to me a fearful phenomenon. He him- 
self evidently vacillated between hope of recovery and 
expectation of the great catastrophe. 

“When I saw him at breakfast four-and-twenty 
hours previously to this, though he was ill and without 
appetite, he still questioned me cheerfully upon the 
granite of the shores of the Baltic which had just been 
brought from Sweden, upon the tails of the comets 
which might dim our atmosphere, and upon the cause 
of the extreme severity of the winter on all the eastern 
coasts. 

“When I saw him for the last time, he pressed my 
hand at my departure, and cheerfully said—‘ Do you 


96 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


believe, Humboldt, that Toplitz and all the warm 
springs are like water artificially heated? We will 
discuss that at Toplitz, when you come there with 
the king. You will see that your old kitchen fire 
will still make me hold together for a while.’ Strange! 
for with such a man everything is of importance. 

“In Potsdam, I sat many hours alone with him 
upon his couch; he drank and slept alternately, then 
drank again, then rose to write to his consort, and 
then slept again. He was cheerful, but much ex- 
hausted. In the intervals, he overpowered me with 
the most difficult questions upon physics, astronomy, 
meteorology, and geognosy ; upon the transparency of 
the nucleus of a comet; upon the atmosphere of the 
moon; upon the’ coloured double stars ; upon the in- 
fluence of the spots in the sun upon temperature ; upon 
the appearance of organized forms in the primitive 
world ; and upon the internal warmth of the earth. He 
slept at intervals during his discourse and mine, was 
often restless, and then said, mildly and kindly excus- 
ing his apparent inattention, ‘ You see, Humboldt, it 
is all over with me!’ 

“ Suddenly, he began to talk desultorily upon religious 
matters. He regretted the increase of pietism, and 
the connection of this species of fanaticism with a ten- 
dency towards political absolutism, and a suppression of 
all free mental action. ‘ Then,’ he exclaimed, ‘ there 
are false-hearted fellows who think that by means of 
pietism they can make themselves agreeable to princes, 
and obtain places and ribbons. They have smuggled 
themselves in with a poetical predilection for the 
middle ages.’ 





ant 
aa 


- 


1828.] | CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 97 


‘His anger soon abated, and he said that he now 
found much consolation in the Christian religion. ‘It 
is a humane doctrine,’ said he, ‘ but has been distorted 
from the beginning. The first Christians were the 
free-thinkers among the ultras.’” 

I expressed to Goethe my delight at this noble letter. 
** You see,” said Goethe, “ what an extraordinary man 
he was. But how good it is of Humboldt to have 
taken up these last few traits, which may certainly 
serve as a symbol in which the whole nature of this 
eminent prince is reflected. Yes, such he was !—I 
can say it better than any one, for no one knew him 
so thoroughly as I did. But is it not lamentable that 
there is no distinction, and that such a man must 
depart from us so early! Had he staid with us only a 
poor century more, how, in his high position, could he 
have advanced his age! But mark this. The world 
will not attain its goal so speedily as we expect and 
desire. ‘There are always retarding demons, who start 
in opposition at every point, so that although the whole 
progresses, it is but slowly. Only live on, and you 
will find that I am right.” 

“The development of mankind,” said I, ‘ appears 
to be laid out as a work for thousands of years.” 

“Perhaps millions,” said Goethe—“ who knows? 
But let mankind last as long as it may, it will never 
lack obstacles to give it trouble, and never lack the 
pressure of necessity to develop its powers. 

*¢ Men will become more clever and more acute, but 
not better, happier, and stronger in action, or at least 
only at epochs. I foresee the time when God will 
have no more joy in them, but will break up every- 

VOL. II. H 


98 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


thing for a renewed creation. I am certain that every- 
thing is planned to this end, and that the time and hour 
are already fixed in the distant future for the occurrence 
of this renovating epoch. But a long time will elapse 
first, and we may still for thousands and thousands of 
years amuse ourselves in all sorts of ways on this dear 
old surface.” 

Goethe was in a particularly good and elevated 
mood. He ordered a bottle of wine, and filled for 
himself and me. Our conversation again turned upon 
the Grand-Duke Charles Augustus. 

“You see,” said Goethe, ‘‘ how his extraordinary 
mind embraced the whole kingdom of nature. Physics, 
astronomy, geognosy, meteorology, vegetable and 
animal formations of the primitive world, and every- 
thing of the sort ;—he had a mind for all and took 
interest in them all. He was eighteen years of age 
when I came to Weimar; but even then the buds 
showed what the tree would one day become. He 
soon attached himself most intimately to me, and took 
a deep interest in all that I did. It was advantageous 
to our intercourse that I was ten years older than he. 
He sat whole evenings with me, in earnest conversa- 
tion on the subjects of art and nature, and other excel- 
lent topics. We often sat together deep into the 
night, and not unfrequently we both fell asleep on one 
sofa. We worked together for fifty years, and it is no 
wonder that we at last achieved something.” 

“So thorough a cultivation as the Grand-Duke 
seems to have received is probably rare among 
princes.” 

“Very seldom!” returned Goethe. ‘* There are, 





1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 99 


indeed, many who are capable of conversing very 
cleverly on every subject, but they have it not at 
heart, and only dabble upon the surface. And it is 
no wonder, if one considers the frightful dissipations 
and distractions which accompany a court life, and 
to which a young prince is exposed. He must take 
notice of everything ; he must know a bit of this and 
a bit of that. Under such circumstances, nothing 
can take root; and it requires a strong natural founda- 
tion not to end in smoke in the face of such constant 
demands, ‘The Grand-Duke was indeed a born great 
man ; and in this all is said, and all is done.” 

*¢ With all his highly scientific and intellectual ten- 
dencies,” said I, ‘ he appears to have understood the 
art of government.” 

“‘He was a man of one piece,” returned Goethe, 
‘Cand with him everything flowed from one single great 
source. And as the whole was good, so the individual 
parts were good, let him do as he might. But he pos- 
sessed three especially useful qualities for carrying on a 
government. He had the talent of discriminating be- 
tween minds and characters, and of placing every one in 
his proper place. ‘That was a great point. ‘Then he 
possessed another gift as great, if not greater: he was 
animated by the noblest benevolence, by the purest 
philanthropy, and with his whole soul aimed only 
at what was best. He always thought first of the hap- 
piness of his country, and only at last a little of himself. 
His hand was always ready and open to meet noble 
men, and to assist in promoting worthy objects. There 
was a great deal that was divine in him. He would 
have liked to promote the happiness of all mankind. 

H 2 


100 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


Love engenders love, and one who is loved can easily 
govern. 

“ Thirdly, he was greater than those who sur- 
rounded him. After ten voices which he heard on a 
certain occasion, he perceived an eleventh, and that a 
better one, in himself. Strange whispers passed him 
unheeded, and he was not easily led to commit any- 
thing unprincely, by setting aside real merit on which a 
doubt had been cast, and taking worthless ragamuffins 
under his protection. He surveyed everything him- 
self, judged for himself, and had in all cases the surest 
basis in himself. Moreover, he was of a silent nature, 
and his words were always followed by action.” 

“< How it grieves me,” said I, “that I knew nothing 
of him but his exterior ; still that made a deep impres- 
sion upon me. I see him still in his old drosky, in a 
worn-out grey cloak and military cap, smoking a cigar, 
as he drove to the chase, with his favourite hound by 
his side. I have never seen him ride otherwise than in 
this ugly old drosky. And never with more than two 
horses. An equipage with six horses, and coats with 
orders, do not seem to have been much according to 
his taste.” 

“ That sort of thing,” returned Goethe, “is now 
almost out of date with princes generally. The only 
point now is what a man weighs in the scale of 
humanity ; all the rest is nought. A coat with a star, 
and a chariot with six horses, at all events, imposes 
on the rudest multitude only, and scarcely that. 
Then the Grand-Duke’s old drosky barely hung upon 
springs. Whoever rode with him had to put up with 
some desperate shocks. But that was in his way; he 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 101 


liked the rough and inconvenient, and was an enemy 
to all effeminacy.” 

“ We see traces of that in your poem of ¢ Ilmenau,’” 
said I, “in which you appear to have drawn him to 
the life.” 

“¢ He was then very young,” returned Goethe, ‘‘ and 
we certainly led rather a mad life. He was like a fine 
wine, still in a high state of fermentation. He did not 
know how to expend his powers, and we often nearly 
broke our necks. Fagging all day long on horse- 
back, over hedges and ditches, through rivers, up hill 
and down hill; and then at night encamping in the 
open air, by a fire in the wood ;—this was what he 
liked. To have inherited a dukedom was in him 
nothing; but to have taken one by storm, he would 
have considered something. 

“The poem of ‘I]menau,’”’ continued Goethe, ‘‘con- 
tains, as an episode, an epoch which, in the year 1783, 
when I wrote it, had happened many years before, so 
that I could describe myself in it as an historical per- 
sonage, and could hold a conversation with the self of 
former years. ‘There occurs in it, as you know, a 
nightly scene after one of the break-neck chaces in the 
mountain. We had built ourselves at the foot of a 
rock some little huts, and covered them with fir 
branches, that we might pass the night on dry ground. 
Before the huts we burned several fires, and we cooked 
and spread out the produce of the chase. Knebel, 
whose tobacco pipe was not then cold, sat next to the 
fire, and enlivened the company with various dry jokes, 
whilst the wine-flask passed from hand to hand. 
Sechendorf the slender, with his long thin limbs, had 


102 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


comfortably stretched himself out by the trunk of a tree, 
and was humming all sorts of poetics. On one side, 
in a similar little hut, lay the Grand-Duke, in a deep 
slumber. I myself sat before him, by the glimmering 
light of the coals, absorbed in various grave thoughts, 
suffering accessions of regret for the mischief which 
had been done by my writings. Knebel and Sechen- 
dorf do not appear to me to be badly drawn, neither 
is the young prince, in the gloomy impetuosity of his 
twentieth year. 


© He hurries onwards, inconsiderate, 

No rock appears too steep, no bridge too small, 
Ghastly mischances ever on him wait, 

And into Pain’s hard arms he oft must fall. 
The wild unruly impulse in his breast, 

Now here, now there, still sets him roving ; 
At last he takes his gloomy rest, 

When weary of his gloomy moving. 
Joyless, though feeling no control, 

Sullen, though wild in happiest days, 
Wounded and fagged in body and in soul, 

On a hard couch his frame he lays ” 


‘¢ That is he exactly. Not the slightest touch is 
exaggerated. Nevertheless, the Duke soon worked 
himself out of this ‘ storm-and-pressure period,’* into a 
state of useful clearness, so that on his birthday, in the 
year 1783, I could well remind him of this image of his 
earlier days. 

J will not deny that in the beginning he caused me 


* The “ storm-and-pressure (Sturm und Drang) period” of German 
literature, which takes its name from one of Klinger’s plays, is that period 
of unfettered impulse which is particularly represented by Schiller’s 
Robbers.” —Trans. 


1828. | CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 103 


much trouble and anxiety. Yet his noble nature soon 
cleared itself, and formed itself to the highest degree of 
perfection, so that it was a pleasure to live and act 
with him.” 

“In these early times you made a tour with him 
through Switzerland,” remarked I. 

“He was fond of travelling altogether,” returned 
Goethe, ‘not so much for the sake of amusing him- 
self as to have his eyes and ears open, and notice 
whatever was good and useful, in order to introduce it 
into his own country. On this account, agriculture, 
cattle-breeding, and industry altogether, are infinitely 
indebted to him. His tendencies were not generally 
personal or egotistical, but of a purely productive 
kind; and, indeed, productive for the general good. 
He has thus acquired a name which has extended far 
beyond this little country.” 

“ His careless, simple exterior,” said I, ‘* appeared 
to intimate that he did not seek renown, and that he 
set little store by it. It seemed as if he had become 
renowned without any effort of his own, merely by 
means of his own passive excellence.” 

“There is something peculiar in that,” returned 


Goethe. ‘* Wood burns because it has the proper 


stuff for that purpose in it; and a man becomes 
renowned because he has the necessary stuff in him. 
Renown is not to be sought, and all pursuit of it is 
vain. A person may, indeed, by skilful conduct and 
various artificial means, make a sort of name for him- 
self. But if the inner jewel is wanting, all is vanity, 
and will not last a day. Just the same is it with 
popular favour. He did not seek it, and he by no 


104 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


means flattered people ; but the nation loved him, be- 
cause it felt that he had a heart for it.” 

Goethe then mentioned the other members of the 
Grand-Duke’s family, and how the mark of a noble 
character ran through them all. He spoke of the 
benevolence of the present Regent, and of the great 
hopes which were entertained of the young Prince, 
and expatiated with evident love upon the rare quali- 
ties of the now reigning Princess, who, in the noblest 
spirit, was applying great means to alleviate sufferings 
and to bring forth germs of goodness. ‘‘ She has 
at all times been a good angel to her country,” said 
he, ‘and she becomes so more and more the longer 
she is united to it. I have known the Grand-Duchess 
since the year 1805, and have had many opportunities 
of admiring her mind and character. She is one of 
the best and most distinguished women of our time, 
and would be so if she were not a princess. And this 
is the great point, that even when the purple has been 
laid aside, much that is great, nay, what is really the 
best, still remains.” 

We then spoke of the unity of Germany, and in 
what sense it was possible and desirable. 

“ T am not uneasy,” said Goethe, ‘‘ about the unity 
of Germany ; our good high roads and future railroads 
will of themselves do their part. But, above all, may 
Germany be one in love! and may it always be one 
against the foreign foe! May it be one, so that German 
dollars and groschen may be of equal value throughout 
the whole empire ! ove, so that my travelling-chest may 
pass unopened through all the six-and-thirty states ! 
May it be one, so that the town passport of a citizen of 


— re 
$4 id 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 105 


Weimar may not be considered insufficient, like that 
of a mere foreigner, by the frontier officer of a large 
neighbouring state! May there be no more talk about 
inland and outland among the German states! In 
fine, may Germany be one in weight and measure, in 
trade and commerce, and a hundred similar things 
which I will not name ! 

“But if we imagine that the unity of Germany 
consists in this, that the very great empire should have 
a single great capital, and that this one great capital 
would conduce to the development of great individual 
talent, or to the welfare of the great mass of the people, 
we are in error. 

** A state has been justly compared to a living body 
with many limbs, and thus the capital of a state may be 
compared to the heart, from which life and prosperity 
flow to the individual members, near and far. But if 
the members be very distant from the heart, the life 
that flows to them will become weaker and weaker. A 
clever Frenchman, I think Dupin, has sketched a chart 
of the state of culture in France, and has exhibited the 
greater or less enlightenment of the different depart- 
ments by a lighter or darker colour. Now, some 
departments, particularly in the southern provinces re- 
mote from the capital, are represented by a perfectly 
black colour, as a sign of the great darkness which 
prevails there. But would that be the case if /a belle 
France, instead of one great focus, had ten foci, 
whence life and light might proceed. 

“Whence is Germany great, but by the admirable 
culture of the people, which equally pervades all parts 
of the kingdom? But does not this proceed from the 


106 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


various seats of government, and do not these foster 
and support it? Suppose, for centuries past, we had 
had in Germany only the two capitals, Vienna and 
Berlin, or only one of these, I should like to see how it 
would have fared with German culture, or even with 
that generally diffused opulence which goes hand in hand 
with culture. Germany has about twenty universities 
distributed about the whole empire, and about a hun- 
dred public libraries similarly distributed. There is 
also a great number of collections of art, and collec- 
tions of objects belonging to all the kingdoms of nature; 
for every prince has taken care to bring around him 
these useful and beautiful objects. There are gym- 
nasia and schools for arts and industry in abundance,— 
nay, there is scarcely a German village without its 
school. And how does France stand with respect to 
this last point ! 

“¢ Then look at the quantity of German theatres, the 
number of which exceeds seventy, and which are not 
to be despised as supporters and promoters of a higher 
cultivation of the people. In no country is the taste 
for music and singing, and the practice of it so widely 
spread, as in Germany ; and even that is something ! 

*¢ And now think of such cities as Dresden, Munich, 
Stuttgard, Cassel, Brunswick, Hanover, and the like; 
think of the great elements of life comprised within 
these cities ; think of the effect which they have upon 
the neighbouring provinces ; and ask yourself if all this 
would have been the case if they had not for a long 
time been the residences of princes ? 

“ Frankfort, Bremen, Hamburg, and Lubeck, are 
great and brilliant; their effect upon the prosperity of 


23 ace ee 
— - r 

[ : 
; 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 107 


Germany is incalculable. But would they remain 
what they are, if they lost their own sovereignty and 
became incorporated with any great German kingdom 
as a provincial town? I see reason to doubt this.” 


Tuesday, November 18, 1828. 


Goethe spoke of a new article in the ‘ Edinburgh 
Review.” ‘It is a pleasure to me,” said he, ‘ to see 
the elevation and excellence to which the English 
critics now rise. ‘There is not a trace of their former 
pedantry, but its place is occupied by great qualities. 
In the last article—the one on German literature—you 
will find the following remarks :—‘ There are people 
among poets who have a tendency always to occupy 

themselves with things which another likes to drive 
from his mind.’ What say you to this? ‘There we 
know at once where we are, and how we have to 
classify a great number of our most modern literati.” 


(Sup.*) Wednesday, December 3, 1828. 


To-day, I had with Goethe a pleasant joke of a very 
particular kind. Madame Duval, of Centigny, in the 
Canton of Geneva, who is very skilful in preserving, 
had sent me, as the produce of her art, some citrons, 
for the Grand-Duchess and Goethe ; fully convinced 
that her preserves as far surpassed all others, as 
Goethe’s poems did those of most of his German 
contemporaries. 

The eldest daughter of this lady had long wished for 
Goethe’s autograph ; it therefore occurred to me that 
it would be a good plan to decoy Goethe into writing 


108 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


a poem for my young friend, by using the citrons as a 
sweet bait. 

With the air of a diplomatist charged with an im- 
portant mission I went to him, and treated with him 
as one power with another, stipulating for an original 
poem in his own handwriting, as the price of the 
offered citrons. Goethe laughed at this joke, which he 
took in very good part, and immediately asked for the 
citrons, which he found excellent. A few hours after- 
wards, I was much surprised to see the following verses 
arrive as a Christmas present to my young friend :— 

s¢ That must be a land of bliss 
Where the citrons grow like this! 
And where ladies find employment 
Sweetening them for our enjoyment,” &c. 

When I saw him again he joked about the great 
advantages which he could now derive from his poetic 
profession, whereas in his youth he could not find a pur- 
chaser for his ‘* Goetz von Berlichingen.” I adopt 
your treaty of commerce,” said he ; “‘ when my citrons 
are eaten up do not forget to order some more; I will 
be punctual with my poetic payment.” 


Tuesday, December 16, 1828. 


I dined to-day with Goethe alone, in his work-room. 
We talked on various literary topics. 

“°The Germans,” said he, ‘cannot cease to be 
Philistines. They are now squabbling about some 
verses, which are printed both in Schiller’s works and 
mine, and fancy it is important to ascertain which 
really belong to Schiller and which to me; as if 
anything could be gained by the investigation—as if the 


— ee ee 


—  — v= 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 109 


existence of the things were not enough. Friends, 
such as Schiller and I, intimate for years, with the 
same interests, in habits of daily intercourse, and under 
reciprocal obligations, live so completely into one 
another, that it is hardly possible to decide to which 
of the two the particular thoughts belong. 

“We have made many distiches together; some- 
times I gave the thought, and Schiller made the verse ; 
sometimes the contrary was the case; sometimes he 
made one line, and I the other. What matters the 
mine and thine? One must be a thorough Philistine, 
indeed, to attach the slightest importance to the solu- 
tion of such questions.” 

¢ Something similar,” said I, ‘‘ often happens in the 
literary world, when people, for instance, doubt the 
originality of this or that celebrated man, and seek to 
trace out the sources from whence he obtained his 
cultivation.” 

“< That is very ridiculous,” said Goethe ; ‘ we might 
as well question a strong man about the oxen, sheep, 
and swine, which he has eaten, and which have given 
him strength. 

‘© We are indeed born with faculties ; but we owe 
our development to a thousand influences of the great 
world, from which we appropriate to ourselves what 
we can and what is suitable to us. I owe much to 
the Greeks and French; I am infinitely indebted to 
Shakspeare, Sterne, and Goldsmith ; but in saying this 
I do not show the sources of my culture ; that would 
be an endless as well as an unnecessary task. What 
is important is to have a soul which loves truth, and 
receives it wherever it finds it. 


110 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


“¢ Besides, the world is now so old, so many eminent 
men have lived and thought for thousands of years, 
that there is little new to be discovered or expressed. 
Even my theory of colours is not entirely new. Plato, 
Leonardo da Vinci, and many other excellent men, 
have before me found and expressed the same thing in 
a detached form ; my merit is, that I have found it also, 
that I have said it again, and that I have striven to 
bring the truth once more into a confused world. 

“The truth must be repeated over and over again, 
because error is repeatedly preached among us, not 
only by individuals, but by the masses. In periodicals 
and cyclopedias, in schools and universities; every- 
where, in fact, error prevails, and is quite easy in the 
feeling that it has a decided majority on its side. 

“ Often, too, people teach truth and error together, 
and stick to the latter. ‘Thus, a short time ago, I 
read in an English cyclopadia the doctrine of the origin 
of Blue. First came the correct view of Leonardo 
da Vinci, but then followed, as quietly as possible, 
the error of Newton, coupled with remarks that this 
was to be adhered to because it was the view generally 
adopted.” 

I could not help laughing with surprise when I 
heard this. ‘‘ Every wax-taper,” I said, ‘ every 
illuminated cloud of smoke from the kitchen, that has 
anything dark behind it, every morning mist, when 
it lies before a steady spot, daily convinces me of 
the origin of blue colour, and makes me compre- 
hend the blueness of the sky. What the Newtonians 
mean when they say that the air has the property of 
absorbing other colours, and of repelling blue alone, I 


1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. III 


cannot at all understand, nor do I see what use or 
pleasure is to be derived from a doctrine in which 
all thought stands still, and all sound observation com- 
pletely vanishes.” 

““ My good innocent friend,” said Goethe, “these 
people do not care a jot about thoughts and obser- 
vations. ‘They are satisfied if they have only words 
which they can pass as current, as was well shown, 
and not ill-expressed by my own Mephistophiles :— 


¢ Mind, above all, you stick to words, 
Thus through the safe gate you will go 
Into the fane of certainty; 
For when ideas begin to fail 
A word will aptly serve your turn,” &c, 


Goethe recited this passage laughing, and seemed 
altogether in the best humour. ‘It is a good thing,” 
said he, ‘¢ that all is already in print, and I shall go on 
printing as long as I have anything to say against false 
doctrine, and those who disseminate it. 

“We have now excellent men rising up in natural 
science,” he continued, after a pause, “‘ and I am glad 
to see them. Others begin well, but afterwards fall 
off ; their predominating subjectivity leads them astray. 
Others, again, set too much value on facts, and collect 
an infinite number, by which nothing is proved. On 
the whole, there is a want of originating mind to pene- 
trate back to the original phenomena, and master the 
particulars that make their appearance.” 

A short visit interrupted our discourse, but when 
we were again alone the conversation returned to 
poetry, and I told Goethe that I had of late been once 
more studying his little poems, and had dwelt especially 


iu <4 
es 
gays 
nl oe 


112 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1828. 


upon two of them, viz., the ballad* about the children 
and the old man, and the “‘ Happy Couple” (die gliick- 
lichen Gatten). 

“«< ] myself set some value on these two poems,” said 
Goethe, “although the German public have hitherto 
not been able to make much out of them.” 

“In the ballad,” I said, ‘¢ a very copious subject is 
brought into a very limited compass, by means of all 
sorts of poetical forms and artifices, among which I 
especially praise the expedient of making the old man tell 
the children’s past history down to the point where the 
present moment comes in, and the rest is developed 
before our eyes.” 

‘¢T carried the ballad a long time about in my head,” 
said Goethe, ‘“* before I wrote it down. Whole years 
of reflection are comprised in it, and I made three or 
four trials before I could reduce it to its present shape.” 

“The poem of the *‘ Happy Couple,’ continued 
Goethe, “is likewise rich in motives ; whole landscapes 
and passages of human life appear in it, warmed by the 
sunlight of a charming spring sky, which is diffused 
over the whole.” 

“<T have always liked that poem,” said Goethe, 
“Cand I am glad that you have regarded it with par- 
ticular interest. “The ending of the whole pleasantry 
with a double christening is, I think, pretty enough.” 

We then came to the ‘ Biirger-general”’ (Citizen- 
general); with respect to which I said that I had been 
lately reading this piece with an Englishman, and that 
we had both felt the strongest desire to see it repre- 


* This poem is simply entitled ‘ Ballade,” and begins “ Herein, O du 
Guter! du Alter herein !”—Trans. 


Pe SN ee ee Oa 
ane 


1828.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 113 


sented on the stage. ‘* As far as the spirit of the work is 
concerned,” said I, ‘‘ there is nothing antiquated about 
it; and with respect to the details of dramatic develop- 
ment, there is not a touch that does not seem designed 
for the stage.” 

“ Tt was a very good piece in its time,” said Goethe, 
“and caused us many a pleasant evening. It was, 
indeed, excellently cast, and had been so admirably 
studied that the dialogue moved along as glibly as 
possible. Malcomi played Marten, and nothing could 
be more perfect. 

“The part of Schnaps,” said I, “* seems to me no 
less felicitous. Indeed, I should not think there were 
many better or more thankful parts in the repertoire. 
There is in this personage, as in the whole piece, a 
clearness, an actual presence, to the utmost extent that 
can be desired for a theatre. ‘The scene where he 
comes in with the knapsack, and produces the things 
one after another, where he puts the moustache on 
Marten, and decks himself with the cap of liberty, 
uniform, and sword, is among the best.” 

“« This scene,” said Goethe, ‘* used always to be very 
successful on our stage. “Then the knapsack, with the 
articles in it, had really an historical existence. I found 
it in the time of the Revolution, on my travels along 
the French border, when the emigrants, on their flight, 
had passed through, and one of them might have lost 
it or thrown it away. The articles it contained were 
just the same as in the piece. I wrote the scene upon 
it, and the knapsack, with all its appurtenances, was 
always introduced, to the no small delight of our 
actors.” 

VOL. Il. I 


114 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1828. 


The question, whether the ‘ Biirger-general’ could 
still be played with any interest or profit, was for a 
while the subject of our conversation. 

Goethe then asked about my progress in French 
literature, and I told him that I still took up Voltaire 
from time to time, and that the great talent of this man 
gave me the purest delight. 

‘¢J still know but little of him,” said I; ‘I keep to 
his short poems addressed to persons, which I read 
over and over again, and which I cannot lay aside.” 

“ Indeed,” said Goethe, “all is good which is writ- 
ten by so great a genius as Voltaire, though I cannot 
excuse all his profanity. But you are right to give so 
much time to those little poems addressed to persons ; 
they are unquestionably among the most charming of his 
works, There is not a line which is not full of 
thought, clear, bright, and graceful.” 

“And we see,” said I, “his relations to all the 
great and mighty of the world, and remark with 
pleasure the distinguished position taken by himself, 
inasmuch as he seems to feel himself equal to the 
highest, and we never find that any majesty can em- 
barrass his free mind even for a moment.” 

“ Yes,” said Goethe, “ he bore himself like a man 
of rank. And with all his freedom and audacity, he 
ever kept within the limits of strict propriety, which 
is, perhaps, saying still more. I may cite the Empress 
of Austria as an authority in such matters; she has 
repeatedly assured me, that in those poems of Voltaire’s, 
there is no trace of crossing the line of convenance.” 

“Does your excellency,” said I, “remember the 
short poem in which he makes to the Princess of 





1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, 115 


Prussia, afterwards Queen of Sweden, a pretty declara- 
tion of love, by saying that he dreamed of being ele- 
vated to the royal dignity ?” 

“It is one of his best,” said Goethe, and he recited 
the lines— 


‘¢ Je vous aimais, princesse, et j’osais vous le dire ; 
Les Dieux a mon reveil ne m’ont pas tout oté, 
Je n’ai perdu que mon empire.” 


‘¢ How pretty that is! And never did poet have his 
talent so completely at command every moment as Vol- 
taire. I remember an anecdote, when he had been for 
some time on a visit to Madame du Chatelet. Just as 
he was going away, and the carriage was standing at 
the door, he received a letter from a great number of 
young girls in a neighbouring convent, who wished to 
play the ‘ Death of Julius Czsar’ on the birth-day of 
their abbess, and begged him to write them a prologue, 
The case was too delicate for a refusal ; so Voltaire at 
once called for pen and paper, and wrote the desired 
prologue, standing, upon the mantel-piece, It is a 
poem of perhaps twenty lines, thoroughly digested, 
finished, perfectly suited to the occasion, and, in short, 
of the very best class,” 

“I am very desirous to read it,” said I. 

“T doubt,” said Goethe, ‘‘ whether you will find it 
in your collection. It has only lately come to light, 
and, indeed, he wrote hundreds of such poems, of 
which many may still be scattered about among private 
persons.” 

“*T found of late, a passage in Lord Byron,” said I, 
“ from which I perceived with delight, that even Byron 

E32 


116 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


had an extraordinary esteem for Voltaire. We may 
see in his works how much he liked to read, study, 
and make use of Voltaire.” 

“« Byron,” said Goethe, “¢ knew too well where any- 
thing was to be got, and was too clever not to draw 
from this universal source of light.” 

The conversation then turned entirely upon Byron, 
and several of his works, and Goethe found occasion 
to repeat many of his former expressions of admiration 
for that great talent. 

“To all that your Excellency says of Byron,” said 
I, ‘I agree from the bottom of my heart ; but, however 
great and remarkable that poet may be as a talent, I 
very much doubt whether a decided gain for pure 
human culture is to be derived from his writings.” 

“ There, I must contradict you,” said Goethe ; “ the 
audacity and grandeur of Byron must certainly tend to- 
wards culture. We should take care not to be always 
looking for it in the decidedly pure and moral. Every- 
thing that is great promotes cultivation as soon as we are 
aware of it.” 


? 


(Sup.) Sunday, December 21, 1828. 


Last night I had a strange dream, which [I related 
to Goethe this evening, and which he thought very 
pleasant. I imagined myself in a foreign town, in a 
broad street, towards the south-east, where I stood 
with a crowd of men, and watched the heavens, which 
appeared covered with a light mist, and shone with 
the brightest yellow. Every one was full of expecta- 
tion as to what would happen, when two fiery points 
appeared, which, like meteor stones, fell to the ground 
before us with a crash, not far from the spot where we 





1828. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 117 


were standing. We hastened to see what had fallen, 
and behold! there stood before me Faust and Me- 
phistopheles. I was both delighted and astonished, 
and joining them as acquaintance, walked along with 
them in cheerful conversation, turning the next corner 
of a street. 

What we said I do not remember, yet the impres- 
sion of their personal appearance was so peculiar, that 
it is still perfectly distinct to me, and not easily to be 
forgotten. Both were younger than one is accustomed 
to consider them ; and, indeed, Mephistopheles might 
have been about one-and-twenty years of age, and 
Faust about seven-and-twenty. The former appeared 
thoroughly gentlemanlike, cheerful, and free; and stepped 
along as lightly as any Mercury. His countenance was 
handsome, without malice ; and one would not have 
discerned that he was the devil, had it not been for two 
elegant horns which sprouted from his youthful fore- 
head, and turned sideways, just as a beautiful growth of 
hair raises itself, and then turns to each side. When, 
as we went along, Faust, in speaking, turned his coun- 
tenance towards me, I was astonished at the peculiarity 
of the expression ; the noblest moral feeling and bene- 
volence spoke in every feature, as the prevailing ori- 
ginal character of his nature. He appeared as if, in 
spite of his youth, all human joys, sorrows, and 
thoughts had already passed through his soul, so care- 
worn was his countenance. He was rather pale, and 
80 attractive that one could not look at him enough. 
{ endeavoured to impress his features upon my mind, 
in order to draw them. Faust walked on the right, 
Mephistopheles between us two, and I still retain the 


118 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1828. 


impression of the manner in which Faust turned 
his fine peculiar countenance, in order to speak with 
Mephistopheles or with me. We went through the 
streets, and the crowd dispersed without taking further 
notice of us. 





GHTIOO IO eviowasa 





1829. 


Wednesday, February 4, 1829. 

‘¢ T have continued to read Schubart,” said Goethe. 
“* He is, indeed, a remarkable man, and he says much 
that is excellent, if we translate it into our own Jan- 
guage. The chief tendency of his book is to show 
that there is a point of view beyond the sphere of phi- 
losophy,—namely, that of common-sense; and that 
art and science, independently of philosophy, and by 
means of a free action of natural human powers, have 
always thriven best. This is grist for our mill. I 
have always kept myself free from philosophy. The 
common-sense point of view was also mine; and 
hence Schubart confirms what I myself have been say- 
ing and doing all my life. 

*¢ The only thing I cannot commend in him is this, 
that he knows certain things better than he will con- 
fess, and does not therefore go quite honestly to work. 
Like Hegel, he would bring the Christian religion into 
philosophy, though it really has nothing to do with it. 
Christianity has a might of its own, by which de- 
jected, suffering humanity is re-elevated from time to 
time, and when we grant it this power, it is raised 
above all philosophy, and needs no support therefrom. 


122 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


Neither does the philosopher need the countenance of 
religion to prove certain doctrines ; as, for instance, 
eternal duration. Man should believe in immortality ; 
he has a right to this belief; it corresponds with the 
wants of his nature, and he may believe in the promises 
of religion. But if the philosopher tries to deduce the 
immortality of the soul from a legend, that is very 
weak and inefficient. To me, the eternal existence of 
my soul is proved from my idea of activity; if I 
work on incessantly till my death, nature is bound to 
give me another form of existence when the present 
one can no longer sustain my spirit.” 

My heart, at these words, beat with admiration and 
love. 

“¢ Never,” thought I, ‘‘ was a doctrine spoken more 
inciting to noble deeds than this. For who will not 
work and act indefatigably to the end of his days, 
when he finds therein the pledge of an eternal life ?” 

Goethe had a portfolio brought, full of drawings 
and engravings. After he had looked at some in 
silence, he showed me a fine engraving after a picture 
of Ostade’s. 

“« Here,” said he, ‘* you have the scene of our good~ 
man and goodwife.”’ 

I looked at the engraving with much pleasure. I 
saw the interior of a peasant’s dwelling, with kitchen, 
parlour, and bed-room, all in one. Man and wife sat 
opposite one another ; the wife spinning, the husband 
winding yarn; a child at their feet. In the back- 
ground ‘was a bed, and everywhere there was nothing 
but the rudest and most necessary household utensils. 
The door led at once into the open air. ‘This idea of 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 123 


a happy marriage in a very limited condition was per- 
fectly conveyed by this engraving ; comfort, content, 
and a certain luxuriance in the loving emotions of 
matrimony, were expressed in the faces of both man 
and wife, as they looked upon one another. 

“ The longer one looks,” said I, “‘ at this picture, the 
happier one feels; it has quite a peculiar charm.” 

“It is the charm of sensuality,” said Goethe, ‘ with 
which no art can dispense, and which in subjects of 
this kind reigns in all its fulness. On the other hand, 
in works of a higher kind, when the artist goes into 
the ideal, it is difficult to keep up the proper degree of 
sensuality, so as not to become dry and cold. Then 
youth or age may be favourable or impeding, and hence 
the artist should reflect on his age, and select his sub- 
jects accordingly. I succeeded with my ‘ Iphigenia’ 
and £ ‘Tasso,’ because I was young enough to penetrate 
and animate the ideal of the stuff with sensual feeling. 
At my present age, such ideal subjects would no longer 
be suited to me, and I do right in selecting those which 
comprise within themselves a certain degree of sen- 
suality. Ifthe Genasts stay here, I shall write two pieces 
for you, both in one act and in prose. One will be of 
the most cheerful kind, and end with a wedding ; the 
other will be shocking and terrible, and two corpses 
will be on the stage at the termination. The latter 
proceeds from Schiller’s time, who wrote a scene of it 
at my request. I have long thought over both these 
subjects, and they are so completely present to my 
mind, that I could dictate either of them in a week, as 
I did my ‘ Biirger-general.’ ” 

*¢ Do so,” said I, ‘ write the two pieces at all events ; 


124 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


it will be a recreation to you after the “* Wanderjahre,” 
and will operate like a little journey. And how pleased 
the world would be, if, contrary to the expectation of 
every one, you did something more for the stage.” 

“© As I said,” continued Goethe, “if the Genasts 
stay here, I am not sure that I shall not indulge in this 
little pleasantry. But without this prospect there is but 
small inducement; for a play upon paper is nought. 
The poet must know the means with which he has to 
work, and must adapt his characters to the actors who 
are to play them. If I can reckon upon Genast and his 
wife, and take, besides, La Roche, Herr Winterberger, 
and Madame Seidel, I know what I have to do, and 
can be certain that my intentions will be carried out. 

“Writing for the stage,” he continued, ‘‘ is some- 
thing peculiar, and he who does not understand it 
thoroughly, had better leave it alone. Every one thinks 
that an interesting fact will appear interesting on the 
boards,—nothing of the kind! ‘Things may be very 
pretty to read, and very pretty to think about; but as 
soon as they are put upon the stage the effect is quite 
different, and that which has charmed us in the closet 
will probably fall flat on the boards. If any one 
reads my ‘ Hermann and Dorothea,’ he thinks it might 
be brought out at the theatre. ‘Topfer has been in- 
veigled into the experiment ; but what is it, what effect 
does it produce, especially if it is not played in a first- 
rate manner, and who can say that it isin every respect 
a good piece? Writing for the stage is a trade that 
one must understand, and requires a talent that one 
must possess. Both are uncommon, and where they are 
not combined, we shall scarcely have any good result.” 


| 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 125 


Monday, February 9, 1829. 

Goethe talked of the ‘* Wahlverwandtschaften,” 
especially remarking, that a person whom he had never 
seen or known in his life had supposed the character of 
Mittler to be meant for himself. 

“There must,” said he, “be some truth in the 
character, and it must have existed more than once in 
the world. Indeed, there is not a line in the ¢ Wahl- 
verwandtschaften’ that is not taken from my own ex- 
perience, and there is more in it than can be gathered 
by any one from a first reading.” 


Tuesday, February 10, 1829. 

I found Goethe surrounded by maps and plans refer- 
ring to the building of the Bremen harbour, for which 
great undertaking he showed an especial interest. 

There was then much talk about Merck, and Goethe 
read me a poetical epistle written from Merck to Wie- 
land in 1776, in very spirited but somewhat hard, doggrel 
verse (Kniittelverse). The lively production is espe- 
cially directed against Jacobi, whom Wieland seems to 
have over-estimated in a critique in the Merkur—a 
fault which Merck cannot pardon. 

We then talked of the state of culture at the time, 
and how difficult it was to emerge from the so-called 
storm-and-pressure period to a higher culture; of his 
first years in Wiemar; of the poetic talent in conflict 
with the reality, which he, from his position at court, 
and the various sorts of service demanded of him, was, 
for his own higher advantage, obliged to encounter. 
Hence nothing ‘poetical of importance was produced 


126 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


during the first ten years. He read several fragments, 
and showed how he was saddened by love affairs, and 
how his father always was impatient of the court-life. 

Then we came to. the advantage that he did not 
change his place of abode, and was not obliged to go 
twice through the same experience; then came his 
flight to Italy, in order to revive his poetic power,— 
the superstitious fancy that he would not succeed if any 
one knew about it, and the profound secrecy in con- 
sequence; how he wrote to the Grand Duke from 
Rome, and returned from Italy with great requisitions 
upon himself. 

Next we talked of the Duchess Amelia—a perfect 
princess, with perfectly sound sense, and an inclination 
for the enjoyment of life. She was very fond of 
Goethe’s mother, and wished her to come to Weimar, 
but he opposed it. 

Then about the first beginnings of ‘* Faust.”— 
“¢« Faust’ sprang up at the same time with ‘ Werther.’ 
I brought it with me in 1775 to Weimar; I had 
written it on letter-paper, and had not made an erasure, 
for I took care not to write down a line that was not 
worthy to remain.” 

Wednesday, February 11, 1829. 

Oberbau-Director Coudray dined with me at Goethe’s 
house. He spoke much of the Female School of In- 
dustry and the Orphan’s Institute, as the best establish- 
ments in their kind of this country. The first was 
founded by the Grand Duchess; the latter by the 
Grand Duke, Charles Augustus. Much was said 
about theatrical decoration and road-making. Coudray 
showed Goethe a sketch for a prince’s chapel. With 





1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, 127 


respect to the place of the ducal chair, Goethe made 
some objections, to which Coudray yielded. 

Soret came after dinner. Goethe showed us once 
more the pictures of Herr von Reutern, 


Thursday, February 12, 1829. 

Goethe read me the thoroughly noble poem, “ Kein 
Wesen kann zu nichts zerfallen’’ (No being can dis- 
solve to nothing), which he had lately written. 

“¢] wrote this poem,” said he, ‘‘ in contradiction to 
my lines— 

£Denn alles muss zu nichts zerfallen 
Wenn es im Seyn beharren will,’ &c. 
‘ For all must melt away to nothing 
Would it continue still to be ;’ 
which are stupid, and which my Berlin friends, on the 
occasion of the late assembly of natural philosophers, 
set up in golden letters, to my annoyance.” 

The conversation turned on the great mathematician, 
Lagrange, whose excellent character Goethe highly ex- 
tolled. 

“ He was a good man,” said he, “¢ and on that very 
account, a great man. For when a good man is gifted 
with talent, he always works morally for the salvation 
of the world, as poet, philosopher, artist, or in what- 
ever way it may be. 

“T am glad,” continued Goethe, ‘‘ that you had an 
opportunity yesterday of knowing Coudray better. He 
says little in general society, but, here among ourselves, 
you have seen what an excellent mind and character 
reside in the man. He had, at first, much opposition 
to encounter, but he has now fought through it all, 


128 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


and enjoys the entire confidence and favour of the 
court. Coudray is one of the most skilful architects 
of our time. He has adhered to me and I to him, and 
this has been of service tous both. If I had but known 
him fifty years ago!” 

We then talked about Goethe’s own architectural 
knowledge. I remarked that he must have acquired 
much in Italy. 

“Italy gave me an idea of earnestness and great- 
ness,” said he, ‘* but no practical skill. The building of 
the castle here in Weimar advanced me more than any- 
thing. I was obliged to assist, and even to make draw- 
ings of entablatures. I had a certain advantage over 
the professional people, because I was superior to them 
in intention.” 

We talked of Zelter. 

“¢T have a letter from him,” said Goethe, ‘¢ in which 
he complains that the performance of the-oratorio of 
the Messiah was spoiled for him by one of his female 
scholars, who sang an aria too weakly and senti- 
mentally. Weakness is a characteristic of our age. 
My hypothesis is, that it is a consequence of the 
efforts made in Germany to get rid of the French. 
Painters, natural philosophers, sculptors, musicians, 
poets, with but few exceptions, all are weak, and the 
general mass is no better.” 

“Yet I do not give up the hope,” said I, ‘¢ of seeing 
suitable music composed for ‘ Faust.’” 

“ Quite impossible!” said Goethe. ‘ The awful 
and repulsive passages which must occasionally occur, 
are not in the style of the time. ‘The music should 
be like that of Don Juan. Mozart should have 


1829. } CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 129 


composed for ‘ Faust.’ Meyerbeer would, perhaps, be 
capable ; but he would not touch anything of the kind ;* 
he is too much engaged with the Italian theatres.” 

A fterwards,—I do not recollect in connection to what 
—Goethe made the following important remark :— 

“ All that is great and skilful exists with the mi- 
nority. ‘There have been ministers who have had both 
king and people against them, and have carried out 
their great plans alone. It is not to be imagined that 
reason can ever be popular. Passions and feelings may 
become popular; but reason always remains the sole 
property of a few eminent individuals.” 


Friday, February 13, 1829. 

Dined with Goethe alone. 

“ After I have finished the ‘ Wanderjahre,’ ” said he, 
*¢T shall turn to botany again to continue the transla- 
tion with Soret; I only fear it may lead me too far, 
and at last prove an incubus. Great secrets still lie 
hidden ; much I know, and of much I have an intima- 
tion. I will confide something to you that will sound 
odd. 

“The plant goes from knot to knot, closing at last 
with the flower and the seed. In the animal kingdom 
it is not otherwise. The caterpillar and the tape-worm 
goes from knot to knot, and at last forms a head. 
With the higher animals and man, the vertebral bones 
grow one upon another, and terminate with the head, 
in which the powers are concentrated. 

* It must be borne in mind that this was said before the appearance of 


‘‘ Robert le Diable,” which was first produced in Paris, in November 1831. 
—Trans. 


VOL. II. K 


130 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


“< With corporations it is the same as with individuals. 
The bees, a series of individuals, connected one with 
another, at least as a community, produce something, 
which is the conclusion, and may be regarded as the 
head of the whole—the queen-bee. How this is man- 
aged is a mystery, hard to be expressed, but I may 
say that I have my thoughts upon it. 

“Thus does a nation bring forth its heroes, who 
stand at the head like demigods to protect and save. 
Thus were the poetic powers of the French concen- 
trated in Voltaire. Such heads of a nation are great in 
the generation in which they work ; many last longer, 
but the greater part have their places supplied by others, 
and are forgotten by posterity.” 

I was pleased with these remarkable thoughts. 
Goethe then spoke of the natural philosophers, with 
whom the great point was to prove their opinion, 

“Herr von Buch,” said he, “*has published a new 
book, which contains a hypothesis in its very title. 
He has to treat of the blocks of granite which are 
scattered about in various directions, without our know- 
ing how or whence they came. But as Herr von 
Buch entertains the hypothesis that such blocks have 
been cast forth, and shivered by some internal force, 
he indicates this in his title, by making mention of dis- 
persed (Zerstreut) granite-blocks, so that the step to 
dispersion (Zerstreuung) is very short, and the unsus- 
pecting reader finds himself in the toils of error he does 
not know how. 

<¢ One must be old to see all this, and have money 
enough to pay for one’s experience. Every bon mot 
that I utter costs me a purseful of money; half a 


Neu oe 








1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 131 


million of my private fortune has passed through my 
hands that I might learn what I know now ;—not only 
the whole of my father’s fortune, but my own salary, 
and my large literary income for more than fifty years. 
I have, besides, seen a million and a half expended 
for great objects by the princes, with whom I have 
been intimately connected, and in whose progress, suc- 
cess, and failure, I have been interested. 

‘¢ More than mere talent is required to become a 
proficient. One must also live amid important cir- 
cumstances, and have an opportunity of watching the 
cards held by the players of the age, and of participat- 
ing in their gain and loss. 

“ Without my attempts in natural science, I should 
never have learned to know mankind such as it is. In 
nothing else can we so closely approach pure contem- 
plation and thought, so closelysobserve the errors of 
the senses and of the understanding, the weak and the 
strong points of character. All is more or less pliant 
and wavering, is more or less manageable; but nature 
understands no jesting ; she is always true, always seri- 
ous, always severe ; she is always right, and the errors 
and faults are always those of man. Him, who is in- 
capable of appreciating her, she despises ; and only to 
the apt, the pure, and the true, does she resign herself, 
and reveal her secrets. 

‘“« The understanding will not reach her; man must 
be capable of elevating himself to the highest Reason, 
to come into contact with the Divinity, which mani- 
fests itself in the primitive phenomena (Urphenomenen), 
which dwells behind them, and from which they pro- 
ceed, 

K 2 


132 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


** The divinity works in the living not in the dead ; 
in the becoming and changing, not in the become 
and the fixed. Therefore reason, with its tendency 
towards the divine, has only to do with the becoming, 
the living; but understanding with the become, the 
already fixed, that it may make use of it. 

“¢ Hence, mineralogy is a science for the understand- 
ing, for practical life; for its subjects are something 
dead, which cannot rise again, and there is no room for 
synthesis. 

“The subjects of meteorology are, indeed, some- 
thing living, which we daily see working and produc- 
ing ; they presuppose a synthesis, only so many are 
the co-operating circumstances, that man is not equal 
to this synthesis, and therefore uselessly wearies himself 
in observations and inquiries. We steer by hypo- 
theses to imaginary islands; but the proper synthesis 
will probably remain an undiscovered country; and I 
do not wonder at this, when I consider how difficult 
it is to obtain any synthesis even in such simple things 
as plants and colours.” 

Sunday, February 15, 1829. 

Goethe received me with much praise, on account of 
my arrangement of the natural-historical aphorisms for 
the “* Wanderjahre.” ‘* Devote yourself to nature,” 
said he; ‘you are born for that purpose, and as the 
next task, write a compendium of the * Theory of 
Colours.’”? We spoke much on this subject. 

A chest arrived from the Lower Rhine, containing 
some antique coins which had been dug up, minerals, 
small cathedral-figures, and carnival-poems, all of 
which were unpacked after dinner. 


1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 133 


Tuesday, February 17, 1829. 


We talked a great deal about Goethe’s ‘ Gross- 
kophta.” 

“Lavater,” said Goethe, “believed in Cagliostro 
and his wonders. When the impostor was unmasked, 
Lavater maintained, ‘This is another Cagliostro, the 
Cagliostro who did the wonders was a holy person,’ 

“ Lavater was a truly good man, but subject to 
strong delusions ; the whole sole truth was not to his 
mind; he deceived himself and others. "This made a 
perfect breach between him and me. The last time I 
saw him was in Zurich; and he did not see me. I 
was coming in disguise down an avenue ; seeing him 
approach, I stepped aside, and he passed without re- 
cognising me. He walked like a crane, and therefore 
figures as a crane on the Blocksberg.”’ * 

I asked whether Lavater had a tendency to observe 
nature, as we might almost infer from the ‘ Physio- 
gnomy.”’ 

“Not in the least,” said Goethe. ‘His tendency 
was wholly towards the moral—the religious. That 
part of his ‘ Physiognomy’ which relates to the skulls 
of animals he got from me.” 

The conversation turned upon the French—upon 
the lectures of Guizot, Villemain, and Cousin. Goethe 
spoke with high esteem of the point of view taken by 
these men; saying that they observed everything: on 
a free and new side, and always went straight to their 
aim, 

“¢ It is,”’ said Goethe, ‘as if till now we had reached 


* That is to say, in the intermezzo in “ Faust.”—Trans. 


134 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [18209. 


a garden through roundabout, crooked ways; these 
men, however, have been bold and free enough to pull 
down a wall, and put a door, so that we get at once 
into the broadest walk of the garden.” 

From Cousin we passed to Indian philosophy. 

“This philosophy,” said Goethe, “if what the 
Englishman tells us is true, has nothing foreign, but, 
on the contrary, the epochs through which we all pass 
are repeated in it. When we are children, we are 
sensualists ; idealists when we love, and attribute to 
the beloved object qualities which she does not naturally 
possess. Love wavers; we doubt her fidelity, and 
are sceptics before we think of it. ‘The rest of life is 
indifferent ; we let it go as it will, and end, like the 
Indian philosophers, with quietism. 

“< In the German philosophy there are still two great 
works todo. Kant did an infinite deal, by writing the 
© Critique of Pure Reason ;” but the circle is not yet 
complete. Now, some able man should write the 
‘Critique of the Senses and Understanding of Man ;’ 
and, if this could be as well done, we should have little 
more to desire in German philosophy. 

“ Hegel,” continued Goethe, ‘has written, in the 
Berlin Fabrbicher, a criticism upon Hamann, which I, 
of late, have read over and over again, and must highly 
praise. Hegel’s judgments as a critic have always been 
excellent. 

‘¢ Villemain, too, stands very high in criticism. ‘The 
French will, indeed, never see another talent to cope with 
Voltaire ; but we can say of Villemain, that he is so far 
elevated above Voltaire by his intellectual point of view, 
as to be able to judge him in his virtues and his faults.” 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 135 


Wednesday, February 18, 1829. 


We talked of the Theory of Colours, and among 
other things about drinking glasses, the dull figures on 
which appear yellow against the light, and blue against 
the dark, and therefore allow the observation of a pri- 
mitive phenomenon. 

“ The highest which man can attain in these mat- 
ters,”’ said Goethe, on this occasion, ‘is astonishment ; 
if the primary phenomenon causes this, let him be 
satisfied ; more it cannot bring ; and he should forbear 
to seek for anything further behind it : here is the limit. 
But the sight of a primitive phenomenon is generally 
not enough for people; they think they must go still 
further ; and are thus like children who, after peeping 
into a mirror, turn it round directly to see what is on 
the other side.” 

The conversation turned upon Merck, and I asked 
whether he had ever meddled with natural science. 

“Yes,” said Goethe, ‘he had even fine collections. 
Merck was altogether an extremely many-sided man. 
He loved art also; and if he saw a good work in the 
hands of a Philistine, of whom he thought that he did 
not know how to value it, he used every means to get 
it for his own collection. In such matters, he had no 
conscience; he considered all means fair, and did not 
despise even a sort of sublime fraud, if he could not 
attain his object otherwise.” 

Goethe related some interesting examples of this 
peculiarity. 

«¢ A man like Merck,” continued he, ‘¢ will not again 
be born, and if he were, the world would model him - 
into a very different person. That was a good time 


136 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


when Merck and I were young! German literature 
was yet a clean tablet, on which one hoped to paint 
good things with pleasure. Now, it is so scribbled 
over and soiled, that there is no pleasure in looking at 
it, and a wise man does not know whereabouts he can 
inscribe anything.” 

Thursday, February 19, 1829. 

Dined with Goethe ¢éte-d-téte in his work-room. 
He was very cheerful, and told me that much which 
was good had lately befallen him, and that an affair with 
Artaria and the court had come to a happy termi- 
nation. 

We then talked a great deal about ‘ Egmont,” 
which had been represented, according to Schiller’s 
version, on the preceding evening, and the injury done to 
the piece by this version was brought under discussion. 

“For many reasons,” said I, ‘‘the Regent should 
not have been omitted; on the contrary, she is tho- 
roughly necessary to the piece. Not only does this 
princess impart to the whole a higher, nobler character, 
but the political relations especially of the Spanish 
court are brought much more clearly to view by her 
conversation with Machiavelli.” 

“¢ Unquestionably,” said Goethe. ‘* And then Eg- 
mont gains in dignity from the lustre which the partiality 
of this princess casts upon him, while Clara also seems 
exalted when we see that, vanquishing even princesses, 
she alone has all Egmont’s love. ‘These are very deli- 
cate effects, which cannot be obliterated without com- 
promising the whole.” 

“¢ Tt seems to me, too,” said I, ‘¢ that where there 
are so many important male parts, a single female per- 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 137 


sonage like Clara appears too weak and somewhat over- 
powered. By means of the Regent the picture is 
better balanced. It is not enough that the Regent is 
talked of; her personal entrance makes the im- 
pression.” 

“You judge rightly,” said Goethe. ‘ When I 
wrote the piece I well weighed everything, as you may 
imagine; and hence it is no wonder that the whole 
materially suffers, when a principal figure is torn out 
of it, which has been conceived for the sake of the 
whole, and through which the whole exists. But 
Schiller had something violent in his nature ; he often 
acted too much according to a preconceived idea, with- 
out sufficient regard to the subject which he had to 
treat.” 

“ You may be blamed also,” said I, ‘ for allowing 
the alteration, and granting him such unlimited liberty 
in so important a matter.” 

“We often act more from indifference than kind- 
ness,” replied Goethe. ‘* Then, at that time, I was 
deeply occupied with other things. I had no interest 
for Egmont or for the stage, so I let Schiller have his 
own way. Now it is, at any rate, a consolation for 
me that the work exists in print, and that there are 
theatres where people are wise enough to perform it, 
as it is written, without abbreviation.” 

Goethe then asked me about the Theory of Colours, 
and whether I had thought any more of his proposal 
to write a compendium. I told him how the matter 
stood, and we fell unadvisedly into a difference of 
opinion, which I will describe, on account of the im- 
portance of the subject. 


138 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


Whoever has made the observation, will recollect 
that on a clear winter’s day, and in the sunlight, the 
shadows cast upon the snow frequently appear blue. 
This is classed by Goethe, in his Theory of Colours, 
under the subjective phenomena, for he assumes as a 
principle that the sunlight comes down to us—who do 
not live on high mountain-tops—not perfectly white, 
but, penetrating through an atmosphere more or less 
misty, has a yellowish lustre ; so that the snow, when 
the sun shines upon it, is not perfectly white, but is a 
surface tinged with yellow, which charms the eye to 
opposition, and therefore to the production of the blue 
colour. The blue shadow seen upon the snow is, 
according to this view, a demanded colour,* under which 
rubric Goethe places the phenomenon, and then very 
consistently explains the observations made by Saussure 
on Mount Blanc. 

When of late I again looked over the first chapters 
of the Theory of Colours, to try whether I could act 
upon Goethe’s friendly proposal, and write a Compen- 
dium of the Theory, I was enabled by the snow and 
sunshine to observe more closely the phenomenon of 
the blue shadow, and found to my astonishment that 
Goethe’s inference was founded on error. How I 
came by this discovery I will explain. 

The windows of my apartment look due south upon 
a garden, bounded by a building, which, from the lower 
altitude of the sun in winter, casts towards me a 
shadow long enough to cover half the garden. 

I looked upon this broad shadow on the snow some 


* ¢ Geforderte Farbe,” that is to say, a colour called forth by the eye 
itself, according to Goethe’s peculiar theory, as explained above.—Trans. 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 139° 


days ago, while the sky was quite blue and the sun was 
bright, and was astonished to see the whole surface 
perfectly blue. ‘* This,” said I to myself, ‘* cannot be _ 
a ‘ demanded colour,’ for my eye is not brought into 
contact with any surface of snow illumined by the sun, 
so that the required contrast could be produced. On 
the contrary, I see nothing but the expanse of blue 
shadow.” However, to be quite certain, and to pre- 
vent the dazzling light of the neighbouring houses from 
affecting my eye, I rolled up a sheet of paper, and 
looked through it on the shaded surface, when I found 
that the blue remained unaltered. 

That this blue shadow could be nothing subjective 
was now established in my mind beyond a doubt. There 
stood the colour, without me, independent—my sub- 
ject had no influence upon it. But what was it? 
And as it was certainly there, how was it produced? 

I looked once more, and, behold, the riddle was 
solved for me! ‘* What can it be,” said I to myself, 
“‘ but the reflection of the blue sky, which is brought 
down by the shade, and has an inclination to settle 
there? For it is written—Colour is akin to shade, 
readily combines with it, and readily appears to us in 
it and by it, as soon as an occasion is presented.” 

The following days gave me an opportunity to con- 
firm my hypothesis. 1 walked about the fields; there 
was no blue sky, the sun shone through foggy mists, 
and spread a perfectly yellow light over the snow. It 
was strong enough to cast a decided shadow, and in 
this case, according to Goethe’s doctrine, the brightest 
blue should have been produced. However, there was 
no blue; the shadows remained gray. 


140 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


On the following forenoon, when the atmosphere 
was cloudy, the sun peeped out from time to time, 
and cast decided shadows upon the snow. Again, 
they were not blue, but gray. In both cases the 
reflection of the blue sky was wanting to give the 
shadow its colour. 

I was. thus sufficiently convinced that Goethe’s de- 
duction of this natural phenomenon was proved to be 
fallacious, and that the paragraphs in the *‘ Theory of 
Colours” which treated of this subject were much in 
need of modification. 

Something similar occurred to me with the coloured 
double shadows, which are seen to peculiar advantage 
by taperlight at break of day, or at the beginning of 
evening twilight, as well as by a clear moonlight. 
That one of the shadows, namely the yellow one, 
shone upon by the taperlight is of an objective kind, 
and belongs to the doctrine of dense media, Goethe 
has not-expressly said, although such is the case ; the 
other one, the bluish or bluish-green shadow, shone 
upon by the purest day or moon light, he declares to be 
subjective—a ‘‘ demanded colour,” produced in the eye 
by the yellow light of the taper diffused over the white 
paper. 

Now, on a careful observation of the phenomenon, 
I did not find this doctrine thoroughly confirmed. On 
the contrary, it appeared to me that the weak day or 
moon light, acting from without, already brought with 
it a bluish tone, which is strengthened partly by the 
shadow, partly by the ‘¢ demanding” (fordernd) yellow 
light of the taper, and that therefore we have an objec- 
tive foundation here also. 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 14 


That the dawning day and the moon cast a pale light 
is well known. A countenance seen at break of day, 
or by moonlight, appears pale, as is sufficiently proved 
by experiment. Shakspeare seems to have been aware 
of this fact, for in that remarkable passage, where 
Romeo leaves his beloved at daybreak, and he and 
Juliet suddenly appear so pale to each other, the 
observation of it must assuredly have served as a 
foundation. ‘The operation of this light in producing 
paleness would of itself be a sufficient indication that 
it must bring with it a greenish or bluish tinge, since 
it has precisely the same effect as a mirror of bluish 
or greenish glass. ‘The following may serve as a 
further confirmation :— 

Light, as seen by the mind’s eye, may be conceived 
as completely white; but the empirical light, as per- 
ceived by the corporeal eye, is seldom seen in such 
purity. On the contrary, it has a tendency to take 
either the plus or the minus side, and to appear with 
either a yellowish or a bluish tone. In this case, the 
immediate sunlight, as well as the taperlight, in- 
clines decidedly to the plus side—the yellowish ; but 
the light of the moon, as well as that of dawn and 
evening twilight, neither of which are direct, but only 
reflected, and are further modified by twilight and 
night, incline to the passive—the minus side, and have 
a bluish tone to the eye. 

_ Let any one place a sheet of white paper in the twi- 
light or moonlight, so that one-half of it may be shone 
upon by the day or moon light, and the other by the 
taperlight, then one-half will have a bluish, the other 
a yellowish tone; and both lights, without any addi- 


142 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


tion of shade, or any subjective heightening, will have 
already ranged themselves on the active or the passive 
side. 

The result of my observations, therefore, was, that 
even Goethe’s doctrine of the coloured double shadow 
was not thoroughly correct ; that in the production of 
this phenomenon there was more of the objective than 
he had observed, and that the law of subjective “ de- 
mand ” (Forderung) could be looked upon as merely 
secondary. 

Indeed, generally, if the human eye were so sensi- 
tive and susceptible, that at the slightest contact of one 
colour it had an immediate tendency to produce the 
opposite, it would be constantly transferring one colour 
into another, so that the most unpleasant mixture 
would arise. 

Fortunately, however, this is not the case ; but, on 
the contrary, a healthy eye is so organized that it either 
does not observe the ‘¢ demanded” colours, or if its 
attention is directed towards them, produces them 
with difficulty ; indeed this operation requires some 
practice and dexterity before it camsucceed even under 
favourable circumstances. 

What is really characteristic in such subjective pheno- 
mena, viz., that the eye to a certain extent requires a 
strong incitement to produce them, and that when 
they are produced they have no permanence, but are 
transient and quickly fading, has been too little regarded 
by Goethe, both in the case of the blue shadow in the 
snow, and in that of the coloured double-shadow, for 
in both cases the surface in question has a scarcely 
perceptible tinge, and in both cases the ** demanded” 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 143 


colour appears decidedly marked at the very first 
glance. 

But Goethe, with his adherence to a law he had once 
recognised, and with his maxim of applying it even in 
such cases where it seems concealed, could easily be 
tempted to extend a synthesis too far, and to discern a 
favourite law even in cases where a totally different 
influence is at work. 

When to-day he spoke of his Theory of Colours, 
and asked how the proposed compendium was going on, 
I would willingly have passed over my new discoveries in 
silence, for I felt in some perplexity as to how I should 
tell him the truth without offending him. 

Nevertheless, as I was really in earnest with respect 
to the compendium, it was necessary to remove all 
errors, and to rectify all misunderstandings, before I 
could make a sure progress in the task. 

All that I could do was to make the frank confession 
to him that, after careful observation, I found myself 
compelled to differ from him in some points, inasmuch 
as I found that neither his deduction of the blue shadow 
in the snow, nor his doctrine of the coloured double- 
shadow, was completely confirmed. 

I communicated to him my thoughts and observa- 
tions; but as I have not the gift of describing objects 
fully and clearly by word of mouth, I confined myself 
to a statement of the results of my observation, without 
going into a more minute explanation of details, intend- 
ing to do this in writing. 

However, I had scarcely opened my mouth, when 
Goethe’s sublimely-serene countenance became clouded 
over, and I saw but too clearly that he did not approve 
of my objections. 


144 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


“ Truly,” said I, “ he who would get the better of 
your Excellency must rise early in the morning; but 
yet it is possible that the wise may go too far, and the 
foolish find the spoil.” 

*¢ As if, forsooth, you had found it,” returned Goethe, 
with an ironical laugh; ‘¢ with your idea of coloured 
light you belong to the fourteenth century, and with all 
the rest you are in the very abyss of dialectics. The 
only thing good about you is that you are, at any 
rate, honest enough to speak out plainly what you 
think. 

* My Theory of Colours,” he continued, ‘ fares 
just the same as the Christian religion. One fancies, 
for a while, that one has faithful disciples ; but, before 
one is aware, they fall off and form a new sect. You 
are a heretic like the rest, for you are not the first that 
has apostatized. I have fallen out with the most 
excellent men about contested points in the Theory of 
Colours, viz., with about » and with 
about .’ Here he mentioned some names of 
eminence. 

We had now finished eating, conversation came to a 
stand-still, and Goethe rose and placed himself against 
the window. I went up to him and pressed his hand, 
for I loved him in spite of his taunts, and I felt, 
moreover, that I was right, and that he was the suffer- 
ing party. 

Before long, we were again talking and joking about 
indifferent subjects; but when I went to him, and told 
him that he should have my objections in writing for 
a closer examination, and that the only reason he did 
not agree with me lay in the clumsiness of my verbal 














ile 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 145 


statement, he could not help, half-laughing and half- 
sneering, to throw in my teeth something about heretics 
and heresy at the very doorway. 





If it should appear strange that Goethe could not 
readily bear contradiction with respect to his Theory 
of Colours, while with respect to his poetical works 
he always showed himself perfectly easy, and heard 
every well-founded objection with thanks, we may 
perhaps solve the riddle by reflecting that, as a poet, 
he received the most perfect satisfaction from without, 
while, by the Theory of Colours, the greatest and most 
difficult of his works, he had gained nothing but cen- 
sure and disapproval. During half a life he had been 
annoyed by the most senseless opposition on every side, 
and it was natural enough that he should always find 
himself in a sort of irritable polemic position, and be 
always fully armed for a passionate conflict. 

His feeling for the Theory of Colours was like that 
of a mother who loves an excellent child all the more 
the less it is esteemed by others. 

*¢ As for what I have done as a poet,” he would 
repeatedly say to me, “‘ I take no pride in it whatever. 
Excellent poets have lived at the same time with 
myself, poets more excellent have lived before me, and 
others will come after me. But that in my century I 
am the only person who knows the truth in the difficult 
science of colours—of that, I say, I am not a little 
proud, and here I have a consciousness of a superiority 
to many.” 

Friday, February 20, 1829. 

Dined with Goethe. He is pleased at having finished 

VOL. Il, L 


146 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


the “* Wanderjahre,” which he will send off to-morrow. 
In the Theory of Colours he is coming over a little to 
my opinion concerning the blue shadow in the snow. 
He talked of his “ Italian journey,” which he had 
again taken under consideration.* 

* * * * * * 

He then talked about the fourth volume of his Life, 
and the method in which he would treat it ; saying that 
my notes on the year 1824, concerning what he had 
already executed and planned, would be highly useful 
to him. 

He read Gottling’s journal aloud, which treats of the 
former fencing-masters at Jena in a very kindly spirit. 
Goethe speaks very well of Géttling. 


Monday, March 23, 1829. 

‘¢ [ have found a paper of mine among some others,” 
said Goethe to-day, “in which I call architecture 
‘ petrified music.’ Really there is something in this ; 
the tone of mind produced by architecture approaches 
the effect of music. 

“Splendid edifices and apartments are for princes 
and kingdoms. ‘Those who live in them feel at ease 
and contented, and desire nothing further. 

* To my own nature this is quite repugnant. Ina 
splendid abode, like that which I had at Carlsbad, I am 
at once lazy and inactive. On the contrary, a small 
residence, like this poor apartment in which we now 
are, and where a sort of disorderly order—a sort of 
gipsy-fashion—prevails, suits me exactly. It allows my 


* There is no occasion to explain the slight omission here.— Trans. 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 147 


inner nature full liberty to act, and to create from itself 
alone.” 

We talked of Schiller’s letters, the life which he and 
Goethe had led together, and how the two had daily 
incited each other to activity. 

‘Even in ‘Faust,’” said I, ‘¢ Schiller seems to 
have taken great interest; it is pleasant to see how he 
urges you, or allows himself to be misled by his idea of 
continuing ‘Faust’ himself. I perceive by this that 
there was something precipitate in his nature.” 

“You are right,” said Goethe, “he was like all 
men who proceed too much from the idea. ‘Then he 
was never in repose, and could never have done; as 
you may see by his letters on ‘ Wilhelm Meister,’ 
which he would have now this way, and now that way. 
I had enough to do to stand my ground, and keep 
his works and mine free from such influences.” 

“T have,” said I, “been reading this morning his 
‘Indian Death Dirge,’ and have been delighted with its 
excellence.” 

“You see,” said Goethe, “ what a great artist 
Schiller was, and how he could manage even the ob- 
jective, when brought traditionally before his eyes. 
That ‘Indian Death Song’ is certainly one of his very 
best poems, and I only wish he had made a dozen like 
it. And yet—can you believe it!—his nearest friends 
found fault with this poem, thinking it was not suffi- 
ciently tinctured with his ideality. Yes, my good 
fellow, such things one has to suffer from one’s friends. 
Humboldt * found fault with my Dorothea, because, 
when assailed by the soldiers, she took up arms and 


* Wilhelm von Humboldt.—Trans, 
L. 2 


148 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


fought. And yet, without that trait, the character of 
the extraordinary girl, so adapted to the time and 
circumstances, is at once destroyed, and she sinks 
into commonplace. But the longer you live, the more 
you will see how few men are capable of appreciating 
what must be, and that, on the contrary, they only 
praise, and would only have that which is suitable to 
themselves. These of whom I spoke were the first 
and best; so you may judge what was the opinion 
of the multitude, and how, in fact, I always stood 
alone, 

“© Had I not had some solid foundation in the plastic 
arts and natural science, I should scarce have kept 
myself up in that evil time, and its daily influences ; but 
this was my protection, and enabled me to aid Schiller 
also.” 

Tuesday, March 24, 1829. 

“ The higher a man is,” said Goethe, ‘* the more he 
is under the influence of demons, and he must take 
heed lest his guiding will counsel him to a wrong 
path. 

“There was altogether something demoniac in 
my acquaintance with Schiller; we might have been 
brought together earlier or later; but that we met 
just at the time when I had finished my Italian journey, 
and Schiller began to be weary of philosophical specu- 
lation,—this, I say, led to very important consequences 
for us both.” 

Thursday, April 2, 1829. 

«© J will discover to you,” said Goethe, to-day at 
dinner, ‘‘a political secret, which will sooner or later be 
made public. Capo d’Istria cannot long continue to be 


1829. } CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 149 


at the head of Grecian affairs, for he wants one quality 
indispensable for such a position; he is no soldier. 
There is no instance of a mere cabinet statesman being 
able to organize a revolutionary state, and bring the 
military and their leaders under his control. With the 
sabre in his hand, at the head of an army, a man may 
command and give laws, secure of being obeyed; but 
without this the attempt is hazardous. Napoleon, if 
he had not been a soldier, could never have attained 
the highest power; and Capo d’Istria will not long 
keep the first place, but will very soon play a secon- 
dary part. I tell you this beforehand, and you will see 
it come. It lies in the nature of things, and must 
happen.” 

Goethe then talked much about the French, espe- 
cially Cousin, Villemain, and Guizot. 

“These men,” said he, ‘ look into, through, and 
round* a subject, with great success. “They combine 
perfect knowledge of the past with the spirit of the 
nineteenth century ; and the result is wonderful.” 

We then came to the newest French poets, and the 
meaning of the terms “ classic” and ‘* romantic.” 

«<A new expression occurs to me,” said Goethe, 
“‘ which does not ill define the state of the case. 
I call the classic healthy, the romantic sickly, In 
this sense, the * Nibelungenlied’ is as classic as the 
‘ Iliad,’ for both are vigorous and healthy. Most 
modern productions are romantic, not because they are 
new, but because they are weak, morbid, and sickly ; 
and the antique is classic, not because it is old, but 


* This felicitous rendering of * Einsicht, Umsicht, and Durchsicht,” is 
by Mrs. Fuller.—Trans. 


150 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [ 1829. 


because it is strong, fresh, joyous, and healthy. If we 
distinguish ‘classic’ and ‘ romantic’ by these quali- 
ties, it will be easy to see our way clearly.” 

The conversation turned upon the imprisonment of 
Beranger— ; 

“ He is rightly served,” said Goethe. ‘ His late 
poems are really contrary to all order; and he has 
fully deserved punishment by his offences against king, 
state, and peaceful citizenship. His early poems, on 
the contrary, are cheerful and harmless, and are well 
adapted to make a circle of gay and happy people, 
which, indeed, is the best that can be said of songs.” 

*¢ I am sure,” said I, ‘* that he has been injured by 
the society in which he lives, and that, to please his 
revolutionary friends, he has said many things which he 
otherwise would not have said. Your excellency 
should fulfil your intention of writing a chapter on 
influences ; the subject is the richer and more impor- 
tant, the more one thinks of it.” 

“Tt is only too rich,” said Goethe; “ for in truth 
all is influence except ourselves.” 

“We have only to see,” said I, ‘ whether an 
influence is injurious or beneficial—whether it is suit- 
able or repugnant to our nature.” 

“ That is indeed the point,” said Goethe, ‘* but the 
difficulty is for our better nature to maintain itself 
vigorously, and not to allow the demons more power 
than is due.” 

At dessert, Goethe had a laurel, in full flower, and a 
Japanese plant, placed before us on the table. I re- 
marked what different feelings were excited by the 
two plants; that the sight of the laurel produced a 


— 


en. 


1820. CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. I51 
5 


cheerful, light, mild, and tranquil mood, but that of the 


_ Japanese plant, one of barbaric melancholy. 


“« You are not wrong,” said Goethe ; ‘¢ and hence 
great influence over the inhabitants of a country has 
been conceded to its vegetation. And, surely, he who 
passes his life surrounded by solemn, lofty oaks, must 
be a different man from him who lives among airy 
birches. Still we must remember that men, in general, 
have not such sensitive natures as we, but vigorously 
pursue their own course of life without allowing so 
much power to external impressions. Nevertheless, 
this much is certain,—that not only the inborn pecu- 
liarities of a race, but soil and climate, aliment and 
occupation, combine to form the character of a people. 
It is also to be borne in mind, that the primitive 
races mostly took possession of a soil that pleased 
them; and, consequently, where the country was 
already in harmony with their own inborn character.” 

“ Just look round,” continued Goethe; ‘* behind 
you, on the desk, there is a paper which I wish you to 
look at.” 

‘¢ This blue envelope ?”’ said I. 

“ Yes,” said he. ‘* Now, what do you say to the 
handwriting? Is it not that of a man who felt him- 
self noble and free, as he wrote the address? Whose 
do you think it is?” 

I looked at the paper with partiality. The hand was 
indeed free and imposing. ‘* Merck might have written 
so,” said I, 

“ No,” said Goethe ; *¢ he was:not sufficiently noble 
and positive. It is from Zelter. Pen and paper were 
favourable to him in the case of this envelope; so 


152 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


that the writing perfectly expresses his great cha- 
racter. I shall put the paper into my collection of 
autographs,” 


Friday, April 3, 1829. 

Dined with Coudray at Goethe’s. Coudray gave an 
account of a staircase in the grand-ducal palace at 
Belvidere, which had been found inconvenient for many 
years,—which the old master had always despaired of 
improving,—and which had now been completely rec- 
tified under the reign of the young prince. 

Coudray also gave an account of the progress of 
several highways, saying that the road over the moun- 
tains had to be taken round a little, on account of a 
rise of two feet to the rood (Ruthe), while in some 
places there were eighteen inches to the rood. 

I asked Coudray how many inches constituted the 
proper standard for road-making in hilly districts. 
‘¢ Ten inches to the rood,” said he, ‘¢ is a convenient 
measure.”  ‘ But,” said I, ‘* when we go from 
Weimar along any road—east, south, west, or north— 
we find some places where the highway has a rise of 
far more than ten inches to the rood.” ‘* Those are 
short unimportant distances,” replied Coudray; ‘ and 
in road-making we often pass over such spots in the 
vicinity of a place, that we may not deprive it of its 
little income from relays.” We laughed at this honest 
fraud. ‘‘ And in fact,” continued Coudray, “ it is a 
mere trifle; the carriages get easily over the ground, 
and the passengers ave for once and a way inured to a 
little hardship. Besides, as the relays are. usually put 
on at inns, the drivers have an opportunity of taking 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. - 153 


something to drink, and they would not thank any one 
for spoiling their sport.” 

“ T should like to know,” said Goethe, ‘* whether 
in perfectly flat countries it would not be better to 
interrupt the straight line of road, so as to allow it to 
rise and fall a little. This would not prevent com- 
fortable travelling; and there would be this advan- 
tage, that the road would be always kept dry by the 
draining.” 

“That might be done,” replied Coudray, “ and 
would probably be very useful.” 

Coudray then produced a paper,—the scheme of in- 
structions for a young architect whom the Upper- 
Building Board (Ober-Baubehérde) was about to send 
to Paris to complete his education. He read the 
instructions, of which Goethe approved. Goethe had 
obtained the necessary assistance from the minister, we 
were pleased at the success of the affair, and talked of 
the precautionary measures to be adopted in order that 
the money might be really of use to the young man, 
and last him for a year. The intention was, on his 
return, to place him as a teacher at the industrial 
school which was to be established, by which means 
the clever young man would at once have a suitable 
sphere of action. All was well devised, and I gave 
my silent good wishes. 

Plans and studies for carpenters, drawn by Schindel, 
were then produced and looked over. Coudray con- 
sidered them of importance, and perfectly fitted for the 
use of the industrial school. 

There was then some talk about buildings, the 
means of avoiding echo, and the great firmness of the 


154 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


edifices belonging to the Jesuits. ‘ At Messina,” 
said Goethe, “ all the buildings were thrown down by 
an earthquake except the church and convent of the 
Jesuits, which stood unharmed, as if they had been 
built the day before. ‘There was not a trace ‘that the 
earthquake had had the slightest effect upon them.” 

From the Jesuits and their wealth, conversation 
turned upon the Catholics and Irish emancipation. 
** Emancipation will, we see, be granted,” said Cou- 
dray, ** but with so many clauses on the part of Parlia- 
ment, that it cannot in any way be dangerous to 
England.” 

“¢ All preventive measures,” said Goethe, ‘ are 
ineffectual with Catholics. The Papal see has interests 
and means to carry them out quietly, of which we 
never dream. If I were a member of Parliament, I 
would not hinder emancipation ; but I would have it 
recorded, that when the first distinguished Protestant 
head fell by a Catholic vote, people might think of me.” 

Conversation then turned on the newest French 
literature, and Goethe spoke again with admiration 
of the lectures of MM. Cousin, Villemain, and 
Guizot. 

“ Instead of the superficial lightness of Vol- 
taire,” said he, ‘ they have an erudition, such as, in 
earlier days, was unknown out of Germany. And 
such intellect ! such searching and pressing out of the 
subject! superb! It is as if they trod the wine-press. - 
All three are excellent, but I would give the preference 
to Guizot ; he is my favourite.” 

Speaking on topics of universal history, Goethe 
spoke thus on the subject of rulers :— 


1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 155 


“To be popular, a great ruler needs no other 
means than his greatness. If he has striven and 
succeeded in making his realm happy at home and 
honoured abroad, it matters not whether he ride about 
in a state coach, dressed in all his orders, or in a bear- 
skin, with his cigar in his mouth, iria miserable drosky, 
he is sure of love and esteem from his people. 

‘¢ But if a prince lacks personal greatness, and does 
not know how to conciliate his subjects by good deeds, 
he must think of other means, and there is none better 
and more effective than religion, and a sympathy with 
the customs of his people. To appear at church every 
Sunday ; to look down upon, and let himself be looked 
at for an hour by the congregation, is the best means of 
becoming popular which can be recommended to a 
young sovereign, and one which, with all his greatness, 
Napoleon himself did not disdain.” 

Conversation again turned upon the Catholics, and 
it was remarked how great were the silent operation 
and influence of the ecclesiastics. An anecdote was 
related of a young writer of Henault, who had made 
somewhat merry with the rosary in a periodical which 
he edited. The paper was immediately bought up 
through the influence of the priests over their several 
congregations. 

*¢ An Italian translation of my ‘ Werther,’ ” said 
Goethe, ‘* very soon appeared at Milan. Not a single 
copy of it was to be seen a short time afterwards. 
The bishop had caused the whole edition to be bought 
up by the clergy in the various districts. I was not 
vexed, but pleased with the shrewd gentlemen, who 
saw, at once, that ‘ Werther’ was a bad book for the 


156 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. . [1829. 


Catholics, and I could not do otherwise than commend 
him for taking immediately the most effective measures 
quietly to suppress it.” 

Sunday, April 5, 1829. 

Goethe said he had driven out to Belvidere this 
morning, to look at Coudray’s new staircase in the 
castle, which he found excellent. He also told me that 
a great petrified log had been sent him, which he would 
show me. 

“ Such petrified trunks,” said he, ‘* are found about 
the fifty-first degree round about the earth, as far as 
America, like a girdle. We must always go on wonder- 
ing. We have no idea whatever of the early organiza- 
tion of the earth, and I cannot blame Herr von Buch 
for trying to indoctrinate mankind for the sake of spread- 
ing his hypothesis. He knows nothing, but nobody 
knows more; and, after all, it does not matter what 
is taught, if it has only some show of reason.” 

Goethe told me that Zelter desired to be remem- 
bered to me, at which I was greatly pleased. We 
then talked of his ‘* Travels in Italy ;” and he told 
me that in one of his letters from that country he 
had found a song, which he would show me. He 
asked me to hand him a packet of papers which lay 
before me on the desk. I gave it him: it contained 
his letters from Italy ; he looked out the poem, and 
read :— 

* Cupido, loser, eigensinniger Knabe.” 


* Cupid, thou wanton, thou self-will’d boy,” &c.* 





* The poem in its complete form will be found in the letters relating to 
the ‘Second Stay at Rome” (Zweyter Romischer Aufenthalt), under the 
head of “ January 1788.” —Trans. 


AMR Rey ee ee § » x ~~ — val i> BTR vy ill 
| eas, (ae ke re 4 ’ : het 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 157 


I was highly pleased with this poem, which seemed 
to me perfectly new. 

“Tt cannot be strange to you,” said Goethe, “ for 
it is in ¢ Claudine von Villa Bella,’ where it is sung by 
Rugantino. I have, however, given it there in such a 
fragmentary state, that one passes it over without 
observing what it means. I think, however, it stands 
well. It prettily expresses the situation, and is in the 
anacreontic vein, ‘This song, and others of the kind 
from my operas, should properly be reprinted among 
my ‘ Poems,’ that the composer may have them all 
together.” I thought this a good notion, and took it 
as a hint for the future. 

Goethe had read the poem very beautifully. I could 
not get it out of my head, and it seemed to have made 
a lasting impression upon him also. The last lines— 


‘So rude thy sport, I fear my poor little soul will 
Haste away to escape thee, and flee her dwelling,” 


he uttered from time to time, as if in a dream. 

He then told me of a book about Napoleon, lately 
published, which was written by one who had known 
the hero in his youth, and contained the most remark- 
able disclosures. ‘* The book is very tame,” said he, 
“¢ written without any enthusiasm ; but one sees what 
a grand character there is in the truth when one ven- 
tures to speak it.” 

Goethe also told me about a tragedy by a young poet. 
“Jt is a pathological work,” said he; ‘‘ a superfluity 
of sap is bestowed on some parts which do not require 
it, and drawn out of those which stand in need of it. 
The subject was good, but the scenes which I ex- 


158 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


pected were not there; while others, which I did not 
expect, were elaborated with assiduity and love. This 
is what I call pathological, or even ‘ romantic,’ if you 
would rather speak after our new theory.” 

We remained together a little longer very cheer- 
fully, and at last Goethe gave me some honey and 
also some dates, which I took with me. 


Monday, April 6, 1829. 

Goethe gave me a letter from Egon Ebert, which I 
read at dinner, and which highly pleased me. We 
said a great deal in praise of Egon Ebert and Bohemia, 
and also mentioned Professor Zauper with affection. 

*¢ Bohemia is a peculiar country,” said Goethe. ‘I 
have always liked to be there. In the culture of the 
literati there is still something pure, which begins to 
be rare in the north of Germany; since here every 
vagabond writes, with whom moral basis or higher 
views are not to be thought of.” 

Goethe then spoke of Ebert’s newest epic poem, of 
the early female government in Bohemia, and of the 
origin of the tradition of the Amazons. ‘This brought 
conversation to the epic of another poet, who had 
taken great pains to get favourable notices of his work 
in the public prints. 

«¢ Such notices,” said Goethe, ‘* have appeared in 
various papers. But at last comes the ‘ Halle Literary 
Gazette,’ telling plainly what the poem is really worth, 
and thus all the compliments of the other papers are 
nullified. He who nowadays will not have the truth, 
is discovered ; the time is past for deluding and mis- 
leading the public.” 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 159 


“¢ T wonder,” said I, “ that man can toil so for a 
little fame, and even stoop to falsities.” 

“ My good fellow,” said Goethe, “a name is no 
despicable matter. Napoleon, for the sake of a great 
name, broke in pieces almost half a world.” 

A short pause arose, after which Goethe told me 
more of the new book about Napoleon, adding— 

‘The power of truth is great. Every halo, every 
illusion which journalists, historians, and poets have 
conjured up about Napoleon, vanishes before the 
terrible reality of this book ; but the hero becomes no 
less than before ; on the contrary, he grows in stature 
as he increases in truth.” 

‘* His personal influence,” said I, “* must have had 
a peculiar magic, that men should so attach themselves 
to him at once, adhere to him, and suffer themselves to 
be wholly governed by him.” 

“¢ Certainly,” said Goethe, “ his personal influence 
was immense. Yet the chief reason was, that men 
under him were sure of attaining their object. On 
this account they were drawn towards him, as they are 
to every one who gives them a like certainty. ‘Thus 
actors attach themselves to a new manager, of whom 
they think that he will assign them good parts. This 
is an old story constantly repeated; so is human nature 
constituted. No man serves another disinterestedly, 
but he does it willingly if he knows he can thus serve 
himself. Napoleon knew men well ; he knew how to 
make proper use of their weaknesses.” 

The conversation turned upon Zelter. 

“ You know,” said Goethe, “ that Zelter received 
the Prussian Order. But he had no coat of arms, 


160 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. {1829. 


while, from his large family, he might hope for a long 
continuance of his name. A coat of arms was there- 
fore necessary as an honourable basis, and I have taken 
the fancy to make him one. I wrote to him, and he 
was pleased, but insisted on having a horse. ‘ Good,’ 
said I, a horse you shall have, but it shall be one 
with wings.’ But turn your head; a paper lies be- 
hind you, upon which I have made the sketch with 
pencil.” 

I took up the paper, and examined the drawing. 
The arms looked very stately, and I could not but 
praise the invention. In the lower field were the 
battlements of a city wall, intimating that Zelter had 
been, in early days, a skilful mason. A winged horse 
rose from behind, indicating his genius and high aspira-_ 
tions. Above the escutcheon was a lyre, over which 
shone a star, as a symbol of the art by which our 
excellent friend, under the influence and protection of 
favouring stars, had won his fame. Beneath was 
annexed the Order which his king, in recognition of 
his great merits, had bestowed upon him. 

“ T have had it engraved by Facius,” said Goethe, 
‘¢ and you shall see an impression. Is it not pleasant 
for one friend to make a coat of arms for another, 
and thus, as it were, bestow nobility upon him ?” 

We sat a while longer at table, taking some glasses 
of old Rhenish wine, with some good biscuits. Goethe 
hummed to himself unintelligibly. The poem of 
yesterday came into my head again. I recited the 
lines, — 

‘€ My goods and chattels hast thou knock’d about sadly ; 
I seek, and only seem to wander in blindness.” 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 161 


“ T cannot get that poem out of my head,” said I. 
*« Jt is quite unique, and most admirably expresses the 
disorder which love occasions in our life.” 

“Jt brings a gloomy condition before our eyes,” 
said Goethe. 

“ On me,” said I, “it makes the impression of a 
Dutch picture.” 

“¢ There is something in itof the ‘ Good man and 
good wife,’ ” said Goethe. 

“You have just anticipated me,” said I; “ for 
I have been forced to keep on thinking of that 
Scottish subject, and Ostade’s picture was before my 
eyes.” 

“ Yet, strange to say,” observed Goethe, “ neither 
of these two poems could be painted; they convey 
the impression of a picture—they produce a similar 
mood; but, once painted, they would be nothing.” 

“ It is,” said I, “ a fine instance of poetry verging 
as nearly on painting as possible, without going out 
of its own sphere. Such poems are my favourites, as 
they inspire both contemplation and feeling. But I 
hardly understand how you could obtain the feeling of 
such a situation ; the poem is as if from another time 
and another world.” 

“¢] shall not write such another,” said Goethe ; ‘and 
know not how it came to me, as is often the case.” 

“One peculiarity of this poem,” said I, “ is, that 
it has upon me the effect of rhyme, and yet it is not in 
rhyme. How is this?” 

“That is the result of the rhythm,” he replied. 
“ The lines begin with a short syllable, and then 
proceed in trochees till the dactyle near the close, 

VOL. II. M 


162 CONVERSATIONS oF GOETHE, [1829. 


Which has a Peculiar effect, and gives a sad, bewail- 


ing character to the poem.” 
He took a Pencil, and divided the line,— 


“Von | méingm | bréitén | Lagér | bin ych vér | trieb&n.» 


We then talked of rhythm ‘jin Seneral, and came to 

€ conclusion that no Certain rules can be laid down 
for such matters, 

“ The measure,” said Goethe, « flows, as it were, 
unconsciously from. the mood of the poet. If he 


mad, and produce nothing of value,” 
Was waiting for the impression of the seal. Goethe 
began to speak of Guizot, 
“T am Sing on with his lectures, which continue 
to be excellent. Those of the Present year go about as 





1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 163 


“ ¢ The Germans,’ says he, ‘brought us the idea of 
personal freedom, which was possessed by that nation 
more than any other.’ 

“Ts not that good? Is he not perfectly right? and 
does not this idea work upon us even to the present 
day? ‘The Reformation is as much attributable to this 
source, as the Burschen conspiracy on the Wartburg— 
wise as well as foolish enterprises. Even the motley 
character of our literature; the thirst of our poets 
for originality—the belief of each one that he must 
strike out a new path; the separation and isolation 
among our learned men, each one standing by himself, 
and working from a point of his own,—all comes from 
this source. 

“¢’The French and English, on the other hand, keep 
far more together, and guide themselves one by another. 
They harmonize in dress and manners. They fear to 
differ from one another, lest they should be remarkable, 
or even ridiculous. But with the Germans each one 
goes his own way, and strives to satisfy himself; he 
does not ask about others, for, as Guizot rightly 
observes, he has within him the idea of personal free- 
dom, from which, as I have said, comes much that is 
excellent, but also much absurdity.” 


Tuesday, April 7, 1829. 

As I entered, I found Hofrath Meyer, who had 
been ill of late, sitting with Goethe at table, and was 
rejoiced to see him so much better, They spoke of 
things. relating to art,—of Peel, who has given four 
thousand pounds for a Claude Lorraine, and has thus 
found especial favour in the eyes of Meyer. 

M 2 


164 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


The newspapers were brought in, and we looked 
over them while waiting for the soup. The emanci- 
pation of the Irish was now discussed as the order of 
the day. 

“ Tt is instructive,” said Goethe, ‘to see how things 
come to light on this occasion, of which no one ever 
thought, and which would never have been spoken of 
but for the present crisis. We cannot, however, get 
a clear notion of the state of Ireland; the subject is 
too intricate. But this we can see, that she suffers 
from evils which will not be removed by any means, 
and therefore, of course, not by emancipation. If it 
has hitherto been unfortunate for Ireland to endure 
her evils alone, it is now unfortunate that England is 
also drawn into them. ‘Then, no confidence can be 
put in the Catholics. We see with what difficulty the 
two million of Protestants in Ireland have kept their 
ground hitherto against the preponderating five million 
of Catholics; and how, for instance, the poor Protestant 
farmers have been oppressed, tricked, and tormented, 
when among Catholic neighbours. ‘The Catholics do 
not agree among themselves, but they always unite 
against a Protestant. They are like a pack of hounds, 
who bite one another, but, when a stag comes in view, 
they all unite immediately to run it down.” 

From Ireland conversation turned to the affairs of 
Turkey. Surprise was expressed that the Russians, 
with their preponderating power, did not effect more 
in the late campaign. 

“ The fact of the matter is this,”’ said Goethe, “‘ the 
means were inadequate, and therefore overgreat requi- 
sitions were made upon individuals; this produced 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 165 


great personal deeds and sacrifices, without advancing 
the cause on the whole.” 

“Tt may be,” said Meyer, ‘a bad locality. We 
see, in the earliest times, that, at this very spot, if an 
enemy attempted to penetrate anywhere from the 
Danube to the northern mountains, he always en- 
countered the most obstinate resistance, and almost 
invariably failed. If the Russians could only keep the 
sea-side open, to furnish themselves with stores in 
that way !” 

“That is yet to be hoped,” said Goethe; “ I am 
now reading Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt,—namely, 
what is related by the hero’s every-day companion, 
Bourrienne, which destroys the romantic cast of many 
scenes, and displays facts in their naked sublime truth. 
It is evident that he undertook this expedition merely 
to fill up an epoch when he could do nothing in 
France to make himself ruler. He was at first unde- 
cided what to do; he visited all the French harbours 
on the Atlantic coast, to inspect the fleets, and see 
whether an expedition against England were practicable 
or not. He found it was not, and then decided on 
going to Egypt.” 

‘It raises my admiration,” said I, ‘¢ that Napoleon, 
at that early age, could play with the great affairs of 
the world as easily and securely as if many years’ 
practice and experience had gone before.” 

‘¢ That, my dear friend,” said Goethe, ‘* is an inborn 
quality with great talents. Napoleon managed the 
world as Hummel his piano ; both achievements appear 
wonderful, we do not understand one more than the 
other, yet so it is, and the whole is done before our eyes, 


-166 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


Napoleon was in this especially great—that he was at 
all hours the same. Before a battle, during a battle, 
after a victory, after a defeat, he stood always firm, was 
always clear and decided as to what he should do. He 
was always in his element, and equal to each situation 
and each moment, just as it is all alike to Hummel 
whether he plays an adagio or an allegro, bass or treble. 
This facility we find everywhere where there is real 
talent, in the arts of peace as well as in war; at the 
harpsichord as behind the cannon. 

“< We see, by this book,” continued Goethe, ‘* how 
many fables have been invented about the Egyptian 
campaign. Much, indeed, is corroborated, but much is 
not, and most that has been said is contradicted. That 
he had eight hundred Turkish prisoners shot is true ; 
but the act appears as the mature determination of a 
long council of war, on the conviction, after a consi- 
deration of all the circumstances, that there were no 
means of saving them. ‘That he descended into the 
Pyramids is a fable. He stood at his ease on the out- 
side, and let others tell him what they had seen below. 
In the same way, the tradition that he wore the Eastern 
dress is inaccurate. He put it on once at home, and 
appeared in it among his followers, to see how it be- 
came him, But the turban does not suit such long 
heads, and he never put on the dress again. 

“He really visited those sick of the plague, and, 
indeed, in order to prove that the man who could van- 
quish fear could vanquish the plague also. And he was 
right! I can instance a fact from my own life, when 
I was inevitably exposed to infection from a putrid 
fever, and warded off the disease merely by force of 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 167 


will. It is incredible what power the moral will has 
in such cases. It penetrates, as it were, the body, and 
puts it into a state of activity which repels all hurtful 
influences. Fear, on the other hand, is a state of indo- 
lent weakness and susceptibility, which makes it easy 
for every foe to take possession of us. ‘This Napoleon 
knew well, and he felt that he risked nothing in giving 
his army an imposing example. 

“¢ But,” continued he, gaily, “ pay your respects. 
What book do you think Napoleon carried in his field 
library ?—my ‘ Werther !’” 

“¢ We may see by his levee at Erfurt,” said I, ‘¢ that 
he had studied it well.” 

“He had studied it as a criminal judge does his 
documents,” said Goethe, “and in this spirit talked 
with me about it. In Bourrienne’s work there is a 
list of the books which Napoleon took. to Egypt, 
among which is ‘ Werther.” But. what is worth 
noticing in this list, is the manner in which the books 
are classed under different rubrics. Under the head 
Politique, for instance, we find the Old ‘Testament, 
the New Testament, the Koran; by which we see 
from what point of view Napoleon regarded religious 
matters.” 

He told us many other interesting matters from the 
book. Among others, the incident was mentioned 
how Napoleon with his army went. through part of 
the dry bed in the narrow part of the Red Sea, at the 
time of ebb; but was overtaken by the flood, and the 
last men waded up to their arms in water, so that the 
exploit nearly ended in Pharaoh’s style. This led 
Goethe to say much that was new on the rise of the 


168 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 182g. 


flood, He compared it with that of the clouds, which 
do not come from a great distance, but arise at once in 
various parts, and pass along symmetrically every- 
where, 

Wednesday, April 8, 1829. 

Goethe was already at table when I entered; he 
received me with a very cheerful air. 

“From whence, think you,” said he, “ have I 
received a letter?—-From Rome. But from whom? 
—From the King of Bavaria.” 

*‘] sympathize in the pleasure you feel,”’ said I. 
“ And is it not odd? Notan hour since, and during 
my walk, I had occupied myself with thinking about 
the King of Bavaria; and now I receive this pleasant 
inteHigence.”” 

“© We have often internal intimations of that sort,” 
said Goethe. ‘‘ There is the letter ; take it, sit down 
by me, and read it.” 

I took the letter, Goethe took the newspaper, and so 
I read undisturbed. the royal words. ‘The letter was 
dated Rome, 26th March 1829, and was written in a 
very legible and dignified hand. The King told Goethe 
that he had bought an estate in Rome, the Villa di 
Malta, with the adjacent gardens in the neighbourhood 
of the Villa Ludovisi, at the north-west end of the city. 
It stands upon a hill, so that he can see over all Rome, 
and has towards the north-east a full view of St. 
Peter’s. 

“Tt is a prospect,” he writes, “which one would 
travel a long way to enjoy, and which I have at my 
command every hour, from the windows of my own 
house.” 


1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 169 


He goes on congratulating himself at being so 
pleasantly settled at Rome. ‘I had not seen Rome 
for twelve years,” he writes, “‘ and longed for it as 
one longs for a mistress; I shall return with my feel- 
ings tranquillized, as one comes to a beloved female 
friend.” He then speaks of the sublime edifices and 
works of art with the enthusiasm of a connoisseur, 
whose heart is set on the really beautiful and its 
advancement, and who is keenly sensitive to any de- 
parture from good taste. The letter altogether was 
conceived and expressed in a beautiful and thoroughly 
humane feeling, such as one does not expect from 
persons of such high rank. I expressed my delight to 
Goethe. 

“¢ ‘There you see a monarch,” said he, ‘* who, while 
he has his royal majesty, preserves the innate beauty 
of his nature asa man. ‘This is a rare phenomenon, 
and therefore the more delightful.” - 

I looked again at the letter, and found in it some 
more excellent passages. ‘* Here in Rome,” writes 
the King, “I refresh myself from the cares of a 
throne; Art and Nature are my daily enjoyments— 
artists my table companions.” He also writes how he 
passed the house where Goethe resided, and how he 
thought of him at the time. Some passages are cited 
from the “ Roman Elegies,” * from which it may be 
seen that the King keeps them fresh in his memory, 
and likes to read them at Rome, from time to time, 
on the very spot where they were produced. 

“ Yes,” said Goethe, ‘* he is particularly fond of 
those elegies. He has teazed mea great deal to tell 


* i, e, Goethe’s.— Trans. 


170 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 18209. 


him how far they are matter of fact; the effect of the 
poems being so pleasant, that it seems as if there must 
have been something in the reality. People seldom 
reflect that a poet can generally make something good 
out of small occasions. 

“ T wish,” continued Goethe, ‘ that I had the 
King’s poems by me, that I might allude to them in 
my answer. I should think they were good, to judge 
from the little I have read. In form and treatment he 
has much of Schiller, and, if he has put the substance 
of a lofty soul into so fine a vase, we have a right to 
expect much excellence. I am glad that the King is 
so pleasantly settled at Rome. I know the villa—the 
situation is beautiful, and all the German artists reside 
in the vicinity.” 

The servant changed the plates, and Goethe bade 
him spread out the large engraving of Rome on the 
floor of the ‘ covered chamber.” ‘I will show you on 
what a beautiful spot the King has settled, that you 
may have a right notion of the locality.” I felt much 
obliged to Goethe. 

“ Yesterday evening,” said I, “I read ‘ Claudine 
von Villa Bella,’ and was much delighted with it. 
The foundation is so well laid, and it is carried out 
with so much joyous audacity, that I feel the strongest 
desire to see it on the stage.” 

“ If it is well played,” said Goethe, ‘ the effect is 
not bad.” 

“< T have already cast the piece in my mind,” said I, 
“and distributed the parts. Herr Genast must be 
Rugantino ; he seems actually made for the part. Herr 
Franke must be Don Pedro, for he is similarly shaped, 


1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 171 


and it is good for two brothers to be somewhat alike. 
Herr La Roche should be Basco, who, with his excel- 
lent art and making-up, would give the part the wild 
aspect it requires.” 

“© Madame Eberwein,” continued Goethe, ‘* would 
make a very good Lucinde, and Mademoiselle Schmidt 
would be Claudine.” 

“¢ For Alonzo,” said I, ‘“* we ought to have a stately 
figure—rather a good actor than a singer, and I think 
Herr Oels or Herr Graff would be well placed. But 
by whom is the opera composed, and what is the music 
like ?” 

“ By Reichardt, and it is. excellent,” answered 
Goethe; ‘only, the instrumentation is a little too 
weak, owing to the taste of the time. Something 
should now be done in this respect, so as to make the 
instrumentation a little stronger and fuller. With our 
song, * Cupido loser, eigensinniger Knabe, the com- 
poser has been particularly happy.” 

“« Tt is a peculiarity of this song,” said I, ‘ that it 
puts me in a pleasant dreamy mood whenever it is 
recited.” 

“From such a mood it proceeded,” said Goethe, 
‘¢ and therefore this effect is the right one.” 

We had finished eating. Frederick came in and told 
us that he had laid out the engraving of Rome in the 
“¢ covered chamber.”” We went in to look at it. The 
picture of the great metropolis of the world lay be- 
fore us. Goethe soon found the Villa Ludovisi, and 

“near it the King’s new purchase—the Villa di Malta. 

“¢ See,” said he, “* what a superb situation! The 

whole city is spread out before you, and the hill is so 


172 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


high, that you can see quite over the buildings towards 
south and east. I have been in this villa, and have 
often enjoyed the view from the windows. Here, 
where the city extends out in a point towards the 
north-east beyond the Tiber, lies St. Peter’s ; and here, 
hard by, is the Vatican. The King, you see, has 
from the windows of his villa a full view of these 
buildings across the river. The long road here, from 
the north into the city, comes from Germany ; that is 
the Porta del Popolo. I lived in one of these first 
streets near the gate, ina corner house. They show 
another in Rome as the place where I lived; but it is 
not the right one. No matter; such things are, at 
bottom, quite indifferent, and we must let tradition take 
its course.” 

We returned into the dining-room. 

“¢ ‘The Chancellor,” said I, ‘* would be pleased with 
that letter from the King.” 

“¢ He shall see it,” said Goethe. 

“¢ ‘When I read in the Paris newspaper,” continued 
Goethe, ‘‘ the speeches and debates of the Chambers, 
I cannot help thinking of the Chancellor, and how 
truly he would be in his element there. For such a 
place it is not enough to have talent, but an impulse to 
speak, and a delight in it ; both of which are united in 
our Chancellor. Napoleon, too, had this impulse to 
speak ; and when he could not he was forced to write 
or dictate. We find with Blucher, too, that he liked 
to speak, and spoke well and with emphasis ; he had 
cultivated this talent at the lodge. Our Grand Duke, 
too, liked to speak, though he was by nature laconic ; 
and when he could not speak, he wrote. He has 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 173 


prepared many laws, many treaties, for the most part 
well; only princes have not time or quiet to obtain the 
necessary knowledge of details. Even in his last days 
‘he made an order about paying for the restoration of 
pictures. ‘This was a happy instance, for, quite like a 
prince, he had made a mathematical calculation for 
paying the expenses of restoration by measure: if the 
restored picture holds twelve square feet, pay twelve 
dollars; if four feet, four dollars. This was like a 
prince, but not like an artist ; for a twelve-foot picture 
may be in such a state that it can be cleaned without 
much trouble in a day, while a four-foot picture may 
be in such a condition that the industry and toil of a 
whole week will scarcely suffice to restore it. But 
princes, like good military men, are fond of mathe- 
matical arrangements, and go to work on the grand 
scale, according to measure.” 

I was pleased with this anecdote. We then said a 
great deal about Art, and kindred subjects. 

“ J possess drawings,” said Goethe, ‘ after pictures 
by Raffaelle and Domenichino, upon which Meyer 
made a remarkable observation, which I will communi- 
cate :— 

““ ¢ The drawings,’ said Meyer, ‘ somewhat evince 
a want of practice; but it is evident that whoever 
made them had a delicate and just feeling for the pic- 
tures which were before him, and this has passed into 
the drawing, so as to bring the originals faithfully 
before the mind. If an artist of our day copied those 
pictures, he would draw everything far better, and per- 
haps more correctly ; but I can venture to say, that he 
would want this true feeling for the original, and that, 


174 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


therefore, his superior drawing would be far from 
giving us so pure and perfect a notion of Raffaelle or 
Domenichino.’ 

“ Ts not that good ?” said Goethe. ‘* And the same 
may be said of translations. Voss, for instance, has 
certainly made an excellent translation from Homer ; 
yet, I am inclined to think, a person might have had 
and conveyed a more zaive and faithful representation 
of the original, without being, on the whole, so masterly 
a translator as Voss.” 

I found this all very just, and perfectly agreed with 
it. As the weather was fine, and the sun was already 
high, we went a little way down the garden, where 
Goethe had some trees tied up, which hung too low 
upon the path. 

The yellow crocuses were in full vigour. We 
looked upon the flowers and then upon the path, where 
we had perfectly violet images. ‘* You were lately of 
opinion,” said Goethe, ‘ that green and red mutually 
called forth each other better than yellow and blue, 
inasmuch as the former colours stood at a higher 
degree, and were therefore more perfect, fuller,* and 
more effective than the latter. I cannot admit this. 
Every colour, as soon as it is decidedly exhibited: to 
the eye, acts with equal force for the production of the 
‘demanded colour.’ The only point is, that our eye 
should be in the right mood, that the sunlight should 
offer no impediment by overbrightness, and that the 
ground should not be unfavourable to the reception of 
the ‘demanded’ image. Generally, we must take care 
not to make too subtle distinctions and definitions with 


* Literally “ satiated” (gesiittigt)—Trans. 


A ie 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 175 


respect to colours, as we are too easily exposed to 
the danger of being led from the essential into the 
non-essential, from the true into the false, and from 
the simple into the intricate.” 

I noted down this as a good doctrine for my studies. 
In the mean while, the time for the theatre had arrived, 
and I prepared to set out. ‘* Mind,” said Goethe, 
laughing, as he took leave of me, “ that you are able to 
' get over the horrors of ¢ Thirty Years of a Gamester’s 
Life’ this evening.” 

Friday, April 10, 1829. 

“ While we are waiting for our soup, I will provide 
you with refreshment for your eyes.” 

With these friendly words, Goethe placed before 
me a volume, containing landscapes of Claude Lor- 
raine. 

These were the first productions of this great master 
which I had seen. The impression they made upon 
me was extraordinary ; and my surprise and rapture 
rose with every leaf I turned over. 

The power of the shadowy masses on either side, 
the splendid sunlight from the background, and its 
reflection in the water, producing a clear and decisive 
impression, struck me as the always-recurring maxim 
upon art of the great master. I was also delighted to 
find each picture quite a little world by itself, in which 
there was nothing that was not in conformity with, 
and did not advance, the ruling thought. Whether it 
was a seaport with vessels at anchor, active fishermen 
and magnificent buildings on the water’s edge, or a 
lonely barren hill-country, with its grazing goats, little 
brook and bridge, a few low bushes, and a shady tree, 


176 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


under which a reposing shepherd was piping, or a 
marshy spot, with standing pools, which in the power- 
ful summer-heat gives a pleasant impression of cool- 
ness, there was always complete unity in the picture; 
nowhere a trace of anything foreign that did not belong 
to its element. 

“‘ Here you see, for once, a complete man,” said 
Goethe, “who thought and felt beautifully, and in 
whose mind lay a world, such as you will not easily 
find out of doors. The pictures have the highest 
truth, but no trace of actuality. Claude Lorraine 
knew the real world by heart, down to the minutest 
details, and used it only as a means to express the 
world of his beautiful soul. That is the true ideality 
which can so use real means that the truth evolved 
produces an illusion as if it were an actuality.” 

“ This, I think, is good doctrine,” said I, ‘and 
would apply as well to poetry as to the plastic arts.” 

“ Even so,” replied Goethe. ‘‘ Meanwhile, you had 
better defer the further enjoyment of the admirable 
Claude till after dinner ; for the pictures are too good 
to look at many of them at once.” 

“That is my feeling,” said I, ‘‘ for a certain fear 
comes over me when I am about to turn to the fol- 
lowing leaf. It is a fear of a peculiar kind which is 
inspired by these beauties, and we have a similar feeling 
with an excellent book, when a crowd of excellent 
passages compel us to stop, and we loiter a little as we 
proceed.” 

“J have answered the King of Bavaria,” said 
Goethe, after a pause, ‘and you shall read my 
letter.” 





1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 177 


“That will be very instructive for me,” said I, 
‘€ and will afford me much pleasure.” 

“In the mean while,” said Goethe, “there is in 
the ‘ Allgemeine Zeitung’ a poem to the King, which 
the Chancellor read to me yesterday, and which you 
must see likewise.” 

Goethe gave me the paper, and I read the poem to 
myself. 

** Now, what do you say to it?” said Goethe. 

“They are,” I replied, ‘ the feelings of a dilettante 
who has more good-will than talent, and to whom the 
high state of literature presents language ready made, 
which sings and rhymes for him, while he imagines 
that he himself is speaking.” 

“You are perfectly right,” said he; ‘I also think 
the poem a very weak production. It bears no trace 
of external observation ; it is wholly mental, and that 
not in the right way.” 

“To write a poem well,” said I, ‘requires great 
knowledge of the subject; and he who has not, like 
Claude Lorraine, a whole world at command, will 
seldom produce anything good, with the best ideal 
tendencies.” 

** And then,” said Goethe, ‘only an innate talent 
knows what is really to be done, while others, more or 
less, go on blundering.” 

“The zsthetic teachers,” said I, “are a proof of 
this; for scarcely one of them knows what properly 
should be taught, and hence they complete the per- 
plexity of young poets. Instead of treating of the 
Real, they treat of the Ideal; and instead of helping 
the young poet to what he has not, they confuse him 

VOL. Il. N 


178 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [1829. 


about what he has. He who, for instance, has by 
nature wit and humour, will use these powers to the 
best advantage, if scarcely conscious that he is en- 
dowed with them; but he who allows himself to be 
influenced by the much-lauded treatises upon these 
high qualities, will be disturbed in the innocent use of 
his powers, consciousness will paralyze these powers, 
and instead of the aid he desires, he will find himself 
incalculably impeded.” 

** You are quite right,” he replied, ‘¢ and a great 
deal might be said on that chapter.” 

‘I have,” he continued, “ been reading the new 
epic by Egon Ebert ; and you must read it too, that 
we may help him out a little. He is really a superior 
talent, but this new poem lacks the proper poetical 
foundation—the foundation of reality. The external 
landscapes, sunset, and sunrise,—passages where the ex- 
ternal world was his own,—could not be better done. 
But the rest, which lies in ages gone by, and belongs 
to tradition, is not painted with its proper truth, and 
lacks the right kernel. The Amazons, with their life 
and actions, are described in that general way which 
young people esteem poetic and romantic, and which 
usually passes for such in the esthetic world.” 

“ This is a fault,” said I, ‘* which pervades the 
whole of our present literature. Special truth is 
avoided, for fear it should not be poetical, and thus we 
fall into commonplaces.” 

“ Egon Ebert,” said Goethe, ‘* should have adhered 
to the chronicles; he would then have made some- 
thing of his poem. When I remember how Schiller 
studied tradition, what trouble he gave himself about 





1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 179 


Switzerland when he wrote his ‘ Tell,’ and how 
Shakspeare used the chronicles, and took into his plays 
whole passages word for word, I am inclined to pre- 
scribe the same course to a young poet of the present 
day. I have, in my ‘Clavigo,’ made use of whole 
passages from the ‘ Memoirs’ of Beaumarchais.” 

*¢ But they are so worked up,” said I, “ that the 
fact is not observed, and the passages do not stand out 
like an indigested mass.” 

“ If it is so,” said Goethe, “ that is as it should be. 
Beaumarchais was a mad fellow, and you must read his 
‘ Memoirs.’ Lawsuits were his element, in which 
alone he felt truly at home. There are still in exis- 
tence speeches from one of his lawsuits, which may be 
ranked among the most remarkable, the most full of 
talent, and the boldest which have ever been known of 
their kind. However, Beaumarchais lost this same 
famous lawsuit. As he was going down the stairs from 
the court, he met the Chancellor coming up. Beaumar- 
chais ought to have given place, but he would not, and 
insisted that each should take half the stair. —The Chan- 
cellor, insulted in his dignity, commanded his people 
to push Beaumarchais aside, which they did. Beau- 
marchais immediately returned into court, and began 
an action against the Chancellor, which he gained.” 

I was pleased with this anecdote, and we continued 
talking over various things. 

‘“¢ I have now taken up ‘ My Second Residence in 
Rome’ once more,” said Goethe, “ that I may finally 
get rid of it, and turn my attention to something else. 
You know that my published Italian journey was 
entirely compiled from letters. But the letters which 

N 2 


180 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


I wrote during my second visit to Rome, are not of 
such a kind that I can make an advantageous use of 
them ; they contain too many references to home and 
my connections in Weimar, and show too little of my 
Italian life. Yet there are many utterances which 
express my inward life at the same time. Now, I think 
of extracting these passages, and inserting them in my 
narrative, to which they will give tone and harmony.” 

I found this plan perfectly judicious, and confirmed 
Goethe in his intentions. 

“ Tt has at all times been said and repeated, that 
man should strive to know himself. This is a singular 
requisition, with which no one complies, or indeed 
ever will comply. Man is by all his senses and efforts 
directed to externals—to the world around him, and he 
has to know this so far, and to make it so far service- 
able, as he requires for his own ends. It is only when 
he feels joy or sorrow that he knows anything about 
himself, and only by joy or sorrow is he instructed. 
what to seek and what to shun. Altogether, man is a 
darkened being; he knows not whence he: comes, nor 
whither he goes; he knows little of the world, and 
least of himself. I know not myself, and God forbid 
I should! But what I wished to say is this, that in 
my fortieth year, while living in Italy, I became wise 
enough to know thus much of myself—that I had no 
talent for plastic art, and that this tendency of mine 
was a false one. If I drew anything, I had not a 
sufficient inclination for the corporeal. I felt a certain 
fear lest objects should press too much upon me, and 
the weak and moderate was more to my taste. If I 
drew a landscape, and got through the back and middle 


1829.) CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 181 


ground, I never dared to give force enough to the fore- 
ground, so that my pictures never produced the proper 
effect. Then I made no progress except by practice, 
and was always obliged to begin again, if I left off for 
awhile. Yet I was not absolutely destitute of talent, 
especially for landscape, and Hackert often said,—‘ If 
you will stay with me eighteen months, you will pro- 
duce something which will give pleasure to yourself 
and others.’ ” 

I listened with great interest. 

“ But how,” said I, “ can one be sure that one 
possesses a real talent for plastic art ?” 

“© Real talent,” said Goethe, “* has an innate sense 
for form, relations, and colour, so as soon to manage 
all that well with but little guidance. Especially, 
it has a sense for the corporeal, and an inclination 
to make it palpable by judicious distribution of light. 
Even in the intervals of practice, it progresses and 
grows inwardly. Such a talent is not hard to recog- 
nise, but is best recognised by a master.” 

“< [ visited the palace this morning,” continued he, 
in a lively tone. ‘* The apartments of the Grand 
Duchess show great taste; and Coudray has, with 
his Italians, given another proof of his talent. The 
painters were still busy with the walls; they were 
Milanese. I spoke Italian with them, and found that 
I had not lost the power. The language brings back, 
as it were, the atmosphere of the country. They told 
me that they had last painted the chateau of the King 
of Wiirtemberg, and that they had then been sum- 
moned to Gotha, where, however, they could not come 
to any agreement. ‘They had been heard of in Weimar 


182 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


at the same time, and had come here to decorate the 
apartments of the Grand Duchess. I listened, and 
was pleased to speak Italian once more, for the lan- 
guage brings with it, as it were, the atmosphere of the 
country. These worthy people have been absent from 
Italy three years, but, as they tell me, they intend to 
go straight home from hence, when they have finished 
painting a scene for our theatre by order of Herr von 
Spiegel. This, probably, you will deem a piece of good 
news. ‘They are very. clever fellows. One is pupil 
of the best scene-painter in Milan ; and you may there- 
fore expect a good scene.” 

After Frederick had cleared the table, Goethe had a 
small plan of Rome laid before him. 

“© Rome,” said he, ‘* would not do for the permanent 
abode of people like us. He who would settle there 
must marry and turn Catholic, else would he lead an 
insupportable existence. Hackert is not a little proud 
of having lived there so long a Protestant.” 

Goethe then showed me, on the plan, the most 
remarkable squares and buildings. ‘‘ This,” said he, 
“‘ is the Farnese garden.” 

«“ Was it not here,” said I, ‘¢ that you wrote the 
witch-scene, in ‘ Faust?’” 

“ No,” he replied, ‘‘ in the Borghese garden.” 

I now refreshed myself with more landscapes by 
Claude, and we said a great deal about this excellent 
master. 

“ Could not now a young artist,” said I, ‘ model 
himself upon him ?” 

“© He who had a similar mind,” answered Goethe, 
“ would certainly develop great excellence by forming 


—-1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 183 


himself on Claude Lorraine. But he whose soul 
nature had not endowed with similar gifts, would at 
most only borrow single peculiarities from this master, 
and use them as mere phrases.” 

Saturday, April 11, 1829. 

I found the table laid out to-day in the long hall for 
several persons. Goethe and Frau von Goethe received 
me very kindly. The guests gradually arrived, viz., 
Madame Schopenhauer ; young Count Reinhard, of the 
French embassy ; his brother-in-law, Herr von D 
who was on his way to enter into the Russian service 
against the Turks; Fraulein Ulrica; and, lastly, 
Hofrath Vogel. 

Goethe was in an especially cheerful mood, and 
entertained the company before dinner with some good 
Frankfort jokes, especially relating to Rothschild and 
Bethmann, showing how one had spoiled the specula- 
tions of the other. 

Count Reinhard went to Court; the rest of us sat 
down to dinner. Conversation became very animated. 
They talked about travelling and the bathing-places ; 
and Madame Schopenhauer especially interested us 
about the arrangement of her estate on the Rhine, near 
the Island Nonnenwerth. 

At dessert, Count Reinhard reappeared, and was 
praised for the activity with which, during his short 
absence, he had not only dined at Court, but had changed 
his dress twice. He brought the intelligence that the 
new Pope—a Castiglioni—was elected, and Goethe gave 
the company an account of the traditional ceremonies 
observed at the election. 

Count Reinhard, who had passed the winter at Paris, 





184 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


was able to give us a great deal of desirable information 
about celebrated statesmen, literati, and poets. We 
talked about Chateaubriand, Guizot, Salvandy, Béran- 
ger, Merimée, and others. 

After dinner, when all except myself had departed, 
Goethe took me into his work-room, and showed me 
two very interesting papers, with which I was highly 
pleased. These were two letters written in his youth, 
one in 1770, from Strasburg, to his friend Dr. Horn, 
at Frankfort ; one in July, the other in December. 
In both spoke a young man who had a presentiment of 
great things which lay before him to do. In the last, 
traces of ‘“* Werther” were already visible ; the Sesen- 
heim connection had been formed, and the happy 
youth seemed rocked in an extasy of the sweetest feel- 
ings, and to be lavishing away his days as if half ina 
dream. The handwriting of the letters was calm, 
clear, and elegant ; it had already assumed the charac- 
ter it always afterwards preserved. I could not for- 
bear reading again and again these charming letters, 
and left Goethe full of the happiest and most grateful 
feelings. 

Sunday, April 12, 1829. 

Goethe read me his answer to the King of Bavaria. 
He had represented himself as one who actually ascends 
the steps of the villa, and expresses his feelings by word 
of mouth in the King’s immediate presence. 

“< It must be difficult,” said I, “‘to preserve exactly 
the proper tone and manner for such cases.” 

** No one,” said Goethe, “ who, during his whole 
life, has had to do with persons of high rank as I have, 
will find it difficult. The only point is not to be per- 


1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 185 


fectly natural, but always to keep within the line of a 
certain conventional propriety.” 

Goethe then spoke of the compilation of his 
“ Second Residence at Rome,” which now occupied 
him. 

“ From the letters,” said he, “¢ which I wrote at 
that period, I plainly see that we have certain advan- 
tages and disadvantages at every time of life, as com- 
pared with earlier or later periods. Thus, in my 
fortieth year, I was as clear and decided on some sub- 
jects as at present, and in many respects superior to 
my present self; yet now, in my eightieth, I possess 
advantages which I should not like to exchange for 
those.” 

“‘ While you made that remark,” said I, “ the 
metamorphosis of plants came before my eyes, and 
I can well understand that one would not return from 
the period of the flower to that of the green leaf, and 
from that of the fruit or seed to the flower-state.” 

“ The simile,” said Goethe, ‘* expresses my mean- 
ing perfectly.” 

*« Only imagine a perfectly indented leaf,” he con- 
tinued, laughing; “‘ do you think that it would go back 
from its state of free development to the dull con- 
finement of the cotyledon? And, indeed, it is an 
interesting fact that we have a plant which may serve 
as a symbol of the most advanced age, since, having 
passed the period of flower and fruit, it still thrives 
cheerfully without further foundation.” 

“ It is bad, however, that we are so hindered in 
life by false tendencies, and never know them to be 
false until we are already freed from them.” 


186 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


“< But how,” said I, “ shall we know that a tendency 
is false ?” 

“¢ A false tendency,” replied Goethe, “ is not pro- 
ductive ; or if it is, what it produces is of no worth. It 
is not so difficult to perceive this in others; but with 
respect to oneself the case is different, and great free- 
dom of mind is required. And even knowledge of 
the truth is not always of use; we delay, doubt, 
cannot resolve—just as one finds it difficult to leave 
a beloved girl of whose infidelity one has long had 
repeated proofs, This I say, because I remember how 
many years were required before I could find out that 
my tendency to plastic art was a false one, and how 
many more, after I was sure of this fact, to separate 
myself entirely from it.” 

“¢ But,” said I, “ that tendency has been of such 
advantage to you, one can hardly call it false.” 

“¢ I gained insight by it,” said Goethe, ‘* and there- 
fore I can make myself easy about it. That is the 
advantage we draw from every false tendency. He 
who with inadequate talent devotes himself to music, 
will never, indeed, become a master, but may learn’ to 
know and to value a masterly production. With all 
my toil, I have not become an artist; but, as I tried 
every department of art, I have learned to take 
cognizance of each stroke, and to distinguish merits 
from defects. ‘This is no small gain; and, indeed, false 
tendencies are rarely without gain. Thus the Crusades, 
for the liberation of the holy sepulchre, manifestly 
represented a false tendency ; but they did this good, 
they weakened the Turks, and prevented them from 
becomin,; masters of Europe.” 








—-1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 187 


We talked on various subjects, and Goethe then 
spoke to me of a book on Peter the Great, by Segur, 
which had interested him, and given him much 
light. 

“ The situation of Petersburg,” said he, ‘ is quite 
unpardonable, especially when we reflect that the 
ground rises in the neighbourhood, and that the Em- 
peror could have had a city quite free from all this 
trouble arising from overflow of the stream, if he had 
but gone a little higher up, and had only had the haven 
in this low place. An old shipmaster represented this to 
him, and prophesied that the people would be drowned 
every seventy years. There stood also an old tree, 
with various marks from times when the waters had 
risen to a great height. But all this was in vain; the 
Emperor stood to his whim, and had the tree cut down, 
that it might not bear witness against him. 

‘You will confess that such conduct is very strange 
in so greata man. Do you know how I explain it ?— 
Man cannot cast aside his youthful impressions ; and 
this principle goes so far, that even defects to which he » 
is accustomed in his early years, and in the midst of 
which he has passed his happiest time, remain after- 
wards so dear to him that he is dazzled by them, and 
cannot perceive any fault. Thus would Peter the 
Great repeat Amsterdam, so dear to his youth, in a 
metropolis at the mouth of the Neva; as the Dutch 
are always tempted to build new Amsterdams over and 
over again in their new possessions.” 


Monday, April 13, 1829. 
To-day, after Goethe had said many good things to 


188 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


me at dinner, I again refreshed myself at dessert with 
some of Claude’s landscapes. 

“ The collection,” said Goethe, ‘bears the title 
Liber Veritatis; it might as well be styled Liber 
Nature et Artis,—for here we find nature and art in 
the highest state and fairest union.” 

I asked Goethe about the origin of Claude Lorraine, 
and in what school he had formed himself. 

“ His immediate master,” said Goethe, “ was An- 
tonio Tasso, but Tasso was a pupil of Paul Brill, so 
that the school and maxims of the latter formed the real 
foundation of Claude, and came to their full blossom 
in him ; for what appeared too earnest and severe in 
those masters, is, in Claude Lorraine, developed to the 
most charming grace and loveliest freedom. ‘There 
was no going beyond him. 

“ However, it is difficult to say from whom so 
great a talent, living in so remarkable a time and 
situation, actually did learn. He looked about, and 
appropriated to himself everything which could afford 
nourishment to his designs, No doubt Claude Lor- 
raine was as much indebted to the Caracci school as to 
his immediate and nominal masters. 

“ Thus, it is usual to say Giulio Romano was a pupil 
of Raffaelle; but we might, with as much propriety, 
say he was the pupil of his age. Only Guido Reni 
had a pupil, who received so entirely into himself the 
spirit, soul, and art of his master, that he almost was, 
and did almost exactly, the same as he. This was a 
peculiar case, which has scarcely been repeated. 

“The Caracci school, on the contrary, was of a 
liberating kind, so that each talent was developed by it in 


1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 189 


its natural direction, and masters proceeded from it all 
entirely different one from another. The Caracci 
seemed born to be teachers of art; they lived in a 
time when the best had already been done on every 
side, and hence they could present their pupils with 
models in all departments. ‘They were great artists, 
great teachers ; but I could not say they were truly 
gifted with the spirit (Geistreich).* It is a somewhat 
bold saying, but so it seems to me.” 

After I had looked at a few more landscapes of 
Claude’s, I opened an artist’s lexicon, to see what is 
said of this great master. We found— his chief merit 
was in his palette.” 

We looked at one another, and laughed. 

“ There, you see,” said Goethe, ‘how much we 
learn if we rely on books, and take in all we find 
written.” 

Tuesday, April 14, 1829. 

When I went in to-day, Goethe was at table 
with Hofrath Meyer, talking about Italy and art. He 
ordered a volume of Claude Lorraine to be laid before 
us, in which Meyer found the landscape of which the 
newspapers told us that Peel had given four thousand 
pounds for the original. One must admit that it is a 
beautiful picture, and that Mr. Peel has made no bad 
bargain. 

On the right side of the picture is a group of people 
sitting and standing. A shepherd is leaning over a girl, 
whom he seems to be instructing to play upon the pipe. 

* “ Geistreich” frequently means little more than clever or ingenious ; 


but it seems here to have a deeper signification, and the term “ gifted with 
the spirit” has been borrowed from the American.— Trans. 


190 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


In the middle is a lake, in the full light of the sun; 
on the left, are cattle grazing in the shade of a grove, 
The two groups balance one another admirably, and 
the light has a magical effect, in the artist’s usual 
manner. There was then a discussion as to where the 
original had long been, and in whose possession Meyer. 
had seen it when in Italy. 

Conversation then turned on the new property of 
the King of Bavaria at Rome. ‘I know the villa 
very well,” said Meyer; “I have often been there, 
and still think with pleasure of the situation. 

“The house is of moderate size. ‘The King, no 
doubt, will adorn it, and make it agreeable according to 
his taste. In my time, the Duchess Amelia lived there, 
and Herder in the next house. Afterwards, the Duke 
of Sussex and the Earl of Munster lived there. Stran- 
gers of high rank have always liked it, on account of the 
healthy situation and superb prospect.” 

I asked Meyer how far it was from the. Villa di 
Malta to the Vatican. 

“From Trinita di Monte, which is near the villa, 
and where the artists lived,” said Meyer, ‘it is a good 
half league. We went over the ground daily, and 
often more than once.” 

“The road by the bridge,” said I, “seems some- 
what circuitous; I should think it would be a shorter 
way to cross the Tiber and go through the fields.” 

“Tt is not so,” said Meyer; “but we had this 
notion, and often crossed the Tiber. I remember one 
occasion when we were returning on a fine moonlight 
night from the Vatican. Of our acquaintance, Bury, 
Hirt, and Lips were with us, and we were engaged in 


1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. IgI 


the customary dispute,—which is the greater, Raffaelle 
or Michael Angelo? So engaged, we entered the ferry. 
When we had reached the opposite shore, and the 
argument was still at its height, some wag—lI think it 
was Bury—proposed we should remain upon the water 
till the strife was quite settled, and the parties agreed. 
The proposal was acceded to, and the boatman had to 
put off and row back. Now the dispute began to 
grow animated, and when we reached the shore we 
were always forced to put back, for the contest was 
not decided. Thus we went on, hour after hour, 
which suited nobody better than the boatman, who had 
an addition of bajocchi each time. He had with him, 
as an assistant, a boy of twelve years old, to whom 
our conduct at last appeared strange. 

“¢ ¢ Father,’ said he, ‘ what is the matter with these 
men that they will not land, but we must always keep 
going back when we reach the shore ?’ 

‘¢ ¢T know not, my son,’ replied the boatman ; ‘ but 
I think they are mad.’ : 

“¢ At last, in order not to row to and fro the whole 
night, we came to a forced agreement, and landed.” 

We laughed at this pleasant anecdote of artistic 
madness. Hofrath Meyer was in the best humour ; 
he continued to tell us about Rome, and Goethe and I 
took pleasure in listening to him. 

“« This dispute about Raffaelle and Michael Angelo,” 
said Meyer, ‘‘ was the order of the day, and was intro- 
duced whenever a number of artists met together large 
enough to take the two sides, It generally began at an 
inn, where we drank cheap good wine. Pictures, 
and parts of pictures, were referred to, and when the 


1g2 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


Opposition party would not concede this or that, an 
immediate inspection of the pictures was found requi- 
site. We left the inn and hurried to the Sistine Chapel, 
the keys of which were in the hands of a shoemaker, 
who would always open the door for a few groschen. 
When we were before the pictures the work of demon- 
stration began, and after the dispute had lasted long 
enough we returned to the inn, to make up our differ- 
ences over a bottle of wine, and to settle all contro- 
versies. ‘Thus we went on every day, and the shoe- 
maker, by the Sistine Chapel, received many a fee of 
four groschen,” 

Mention was then made of another shoemaker, who 
generally hammered his leather on an antique marble 
head. ‘‘ It was the portrait of a Roman emperor,” said 
Meyer; “the antique work stood before the shoe- 
maker’s door, and we often saw him engaged in this 
laudable occupation as we passed by.” 


Wednesday, April 15, 1829. 

We talked of people who, without having any real 
talent, are excited to productiveness, and of others 
who write about things they do not understand. 

“* What seduces young people,” said Goethe, “is this 
—we live in a time in which so much culture is diffused, 
that it has communicated itself, as it were, to the at- 
mosphere which a young man breathes. Poetical and 
philosophic thoughts live and move within him, he has 
sucked them in with his very breath, but he thinks they 
are his own property, and utters them as such. But 
after he has restored to the time what he has received 
from it, he remains poor. He is like a fountain which 


eee Mel yin 3 Tee een ee ee eee we 
rT ee ’ ba rd 
: ‘ $ 


1829.] | CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 193 


plays for a while with the water with which it is sup- 
plied, but which ceases to flow as soon as the liquid 
treasure is exhausted.” 

Tuesday, September 1, 1829. 

I told Goethe of a person now travelling through 
Weimar, who had heard a lecture of Hegel’s on the 
proof of the existence of a God. Goethe agreed with 
me, that the time for such lectures was gone by. 

“<The period of doubt,” said he, ‘‘is past; men 
now doubt as little the existence of a God as their 
own, though the nature of the divinity, the immor- 
tality, the peculiarities of our own souls, and their 
connection with our bodies, are eternal problems, with 
respect to which our philosophers take us no farther. 
A French philosopher, of the most recent times, begins 
his chapter confidently thus :— 

‘¢ «Tt is acknowledged that man consists of two parts, 
body and soul; accordingly, we will begin with the 
body, and then speak of the soul.’ 

“¢ Fichte went a little farther, and extricated him- 
self somewhat more cleverly from the dilemma, by 
saying—‘ We shall treat of man regarded as a body, 
and of man regarded as a soul.’ He felt too well that 
a so closely combined whole could not be separated. 
Kant has unquestionably done the best service, by 
drawing the limits beyond which human intellect is 
not able to penetrate, and leaving at rest the insoluble 
problems. What a deal have people philosophized 
about immortality—and how far have they got? I 
doubt not of our immortality, for nature cannot 
dispense with the entelecheia. But we are not all, in 
like manner, immortal; and he who would manifest 

VOL. II. fe) 


194 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


himself in future as a great entelecheia, must be one 
now. 

«While the Germans are tormenting themselves 
with the solution of philosophical problems, the English, 
with their great practical understanding, laugh at us, 
and win the world. Everybody knows their declama- 
tions against the slave-trade; and while they have 
palmed upon us all sorts of humane maxims as the real 
foundation of their proceedings, it is at last discovered 
that their true motive is a practical object, which the 
English always notoriously require in order to act, 
and which should have been known before. In their 
extensive domains on the western coast of Africa 
they themselves use the blacks, and it is against their 
interest for them to be carried off. ‘They have founded: 
large colonies of negroes in America, which are very 
productive, and yearly return a large profit in blacks. 
From these they can supply the demand in North 
America, and since they thus carry on a highly pro- 
fitable trade, an importation from without would be 
against their commercial interests ; so they preach with 
a practical view against the inhuman African slave- 
trade. Even at the Congress of Vienna, the English 
envoy denounced it with great zeal, but the Portu- 
guese envoy had the good sense to reply quietly, that 
he did not know they had come together to sit in judg- 
ment on the world, or to decide upon principles of 
morality. He well knew the object of England; and 
he had also his own, which he knew how to plead for 
and obtain.” 

Sunday, December 6, 1829. 


To-day, after dinner, Goethe read me the first scene 


1829.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 195 


of the second act of “ Faust.”* The effect was 
great, and gave mea high satisfaction. We are once 
more transported into Faust’s study, where Mephis- 
tophiles finds all just as he had left it. He takes from 
the hook Faust’s old study-gown, and a thousand moths 
and insects flutter out from it. By the directions of 
Mephistophiles as to where these are to settle down, 
the locality is brought very clearly before our eyes. 
He puts on the gown, while Faust lies behind a cur- 
tain, in a state of paralysis, intending to play the 
doctor’s part once more. He pulls the bell, which 
gives such an awful tone among the old solitary con- 
vent-halls, that the doors spring open and the walls 
tremble. The servant rushes in, and finds in Faust’s 
seat Mephistophiles, whom he does not recognise, but 
for whom he has respect. In answer to inquiries he 
gives news of Wagner, who has now become a celebrated 
man, and is hoping for the return of his master. He is, 
we hear, at this moment deeply occupied in his labora- 
tory, seeking to produce a Homunculus. ‘The servant 
retires, and the Bachelor enters,—the same whom we 
knew some years before as a shy young student, when 
Mephistophiles (in Faust’s gown) made game of him. 
He is now become a man, and is so full of conceit 
that even Mephistophiles can do nothing with him, 
but moves his chair further and further, and at last 
addresses the pit. 

Goethe read the scene quite to the end. I was 
pleased with his youthful productive strength, and with 
the closeness of the whole. ‘As the conception,” 

* That is, the second act of the second part of “ Faust,” which was not 
published entire till after Goethe’s death.— Trans. 

O02 


196 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


said Goethe, ‘ is so old—for I have had it in my mind 
for fifty years—the materials have accumulated to 
such a degree, that the difficult operation is to separate 
and reject. The invention of the whole second part 
is really as old as I say; but it may be an advan+ 
tage that I have not written it down till now, when 
my knowledge of the world is so much clearer. I am 
like one who in his youth has a great deal of small 
silver and copper money, which in the course of his 
life he constantly changes for the better, so that at last 
the property of his youth stands before him in pieces 

of pure gold.” 3 

We spoke about the character of the Bachelor. ‘Is 
he not meant,”’ said I, ‘* to represent a certain class of 
ideal philosophers ?” 

“* No,” said Goethe, “ the arrogance which is pecu- 
liar to youth, and of which we had such striking ex- 
amples after our war for freedom, is personified in him, 
Indeed, every one believes in his youth that the world 
really began with him, and that all merely exists for his 
sake. 

«Thus, in the East, there was actually a man who 
every morning collected his people about him, and 
would not go to work till he had commanded the sun 
to rise. But he was wise enough not to speak his 
command till the sun of its own accord was really on 
the point of appearing.” 

Goethe remained a while absorbed in silent thought ; 
then he began as follows :— 

** When one is old one thinks of worldly matters 
otherwise than when one is young. Thus I cannot 
but think that the demons, to teaze and make sport 


1829. | CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 197 


with men, have placed among them single figures, 
which are so alluring that every one strives after 
them, and so great that nobody reaches them. Thus 
they set up Raffaelle, with whom thought and act 
were equally perfect; some distinguished followers 
have approached him, but none have equalled him. 
Thus, too, they set up Mozart as something unat- 
tainable in music; and thus Shakspeare in poetry. I 
know what you can say against this thought; but I 
only mean natural character, the great innate qualities. 
Thus, too, Napoleon is unattainable. That the Rus- 
sians were so moderate as not to go to Constantinople 
is indeed very great; but we find a similar trait in 
Napoleon, for he had the moderation not to go to 
Rome.” 

Much was associated with this copious theme; I 
thought to myself in silence that the demons had 
intended something of the kind with Goethe, inas- 
much as he is a form too alluring not to be striven 
after, and too great to be reached. 


Wednesday, December 16, 1829. 


To-day, after dinner, Goethe read me the second 
scene of the second act of ‘ Faust,” where Mephis- 
tophiles visits Wagner, who is on the point of making 
a human being by chemical means. The work suc- 
ceeds; the Homunculus appears in the phial, as a 
shining being, and is at once active. He repels 
Wagner’s questions upon incomprehensible subjects ; 
reasoning is not his business; he wishes to act, and 
begins with our hero, Faust, who, in his paralyzed 
condition, needs a higher aid. As a being to whom 


198 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [ 1829. 


the present is perfectly clear and transparent, the 
Homunculus sees into the soul of the sleeping Faust, 
who, enraptured by a lovely dream, beholds Leda visited 
by swans, while she is bathing in a pleasant spot. 
The Homunculus, by describing this dream, brings a 
most charming picture before our eyes. Mephisto- 
philes sees nothing of it, and the Homunculus taunts 
him with his northern nature. 

“* Generally,” said Goethe, “ you will perceive that 
Mephistophiles appears to disadvantage beside the 
Homunculus, who is like him in clearness of intellect, 
and so much superior to him in his tendency to the beau- 
tiful, and to a useful activity. He styles him cousin ; 
for such spiritual beings as this Homunculus, not yet 
saddened and limited by a thorough assumption of 
humanity, were classed with the demons, and thus 
there is a sort of relationship between the two.” 

“ Certainly,” said I, “* Mephistophiles appears here 
in a subordinate situation; yet I cannot help thinking 
that he has had a secret influence on the production of 
the Homunculus. We have known him in this way 
before; and, indeed, in the ‘ Helena’ he always 
appears as a being secretly working. ‘Thus he again 
elevates himself with regard to the whole, and in 
his lofty repose he can well afford to put up with a 
little in particulars.” 

* Your feeling of the position is very correct,” said 
Goethe; indeed, I have doubted whether I ought 
not to put some verses into the mouth of Mephis- 
tophiles as he goes to Wagner, and the Homunculus 
is still in a state of formation, so that his co-operation 
may be expressed and rendered plain to the reader.” 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 199 


“Tt would do no harm,” said I. ‘ Yet this is 
intimated by the words with which Mephistophiles 
closes the scene— 


© Am Ende hiangen wir doch ab 
Von Creaturen die wir machten.’” 


We are dependent after all, 
On creatures that we make. 


“¢ True,” said Goethe, ‘ that would be almost 
enough for the attentive; but I will think about some 
additional verses.” 

“¢ But,” said I, “* those concluding words are very 
great, and will not easily be penetrated to their full 
extent.” 

“I think,” said Goethe, “I have given them a bone 
to pick. A father who has six sons is a lost man, 
let him do what he may. Kings and ministers, too, 
who have raised many persons to high places, may 
have something to think about from their own expe- 
rience.” 

Faust’s dream about Leda again came into my head, 
and I regarded this as a most important feature in the 
composition. 

“< It is wonderful to me,” said I, ‘* how the several 
parts of such a work bear upon, perfect, and sustain 
one another! By this dream of Leda, ‘ Helena’ gains 
its proper foundation. ‘There we have a constant 
allusion to swans and the child of aswan; but here we 
have the act itself, and when we come afterwards to 
‘ Helena,’ with the sensible impression of such a 
situation, how much more clear and perfect does all 
appear |” 


200 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


Goethe said I was right, and was pleased that I 
remarked this. 

** Thus you will see,” said he, ‘ that in these earlier 
acts the chords of the classic and romantic are constantly > 
struck, so that, as on a rising ground, where both forms 
of poetry are brought out, and in some sort balance one 
another, we may ascend to ‘ Helena.’” 

“< The French,” continued Goethe, “ now begin to 
think justly of these matters. Both classic and roman- 
tic, say they, are equally good. The only point is to 
use these forms with judgment, and to be capable of 
excellence. You can be absurd in both, and then one 
is as worthless as the other. This, I think, is rational 
enough, and may content us for a while.” 


Sunday, December 20, 1829. 

Dined with Goethe. We spoke of the Chancellor, 
and I asked whether he did not bring any news of 
Manzoni, on his return from Italy. 

“¢ He wrote to me about him,” said Goethe. ‘* The 
Chancellor paid Manzoni a visit; he lives on his 
estate near Milan, and is, I am sorry to say, always 
indisposed.” 

“It is singular,” said I, “ that we so frequently 
find persons of distinguished talents, especially poets, 
with weak constitutions.” 

“The extraordinary performances’ of these men,” 
said Goethe, ‘ presuppose a very delicate organi- 
zation, which makes them susceptible to unusual 
emotions, and capable of hearing celestial voices, Such 
an organization, in conflict with the world and the 
elements, is easily disturbed and injured ; and he who 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 201 


does not, like Voltaire, combine with great sensibility 
an equally uncommon toughness, is easily exposed to 
perpetual indisposition. Schiller was always ill. When 
I first knew him, I thought he could not live a month ; 
but he, too, had a certain toughness; he sustained 
himself many years, and would have done so longer, 
if he had lived in a way more favourable to health.” 

We spoke of the theatre, and how far a certain per- 
formance had been successful. 

¢ T have seen Unzelmann in the part,” said Goethe. 
“© It was always a pleasure to see him, on account of 
the perfect freedom of his mind, which he imparted to 
us ; for it is with acting as with all other arts. What 
the artist does or has done excites in us the mood in 
which he himself was when he did it. A free mood 
in the artist makes us free ; a constrained one makes us 
uncomfortable. We usually find this freedom of the 
artist where he is fully equal to his subject. It is on 
this account we are so pleased with Dutch pictures ; 
the artists painted the life around them, of which they 
were perfect masters. If we are to feel this freedom 
of mind in an actor, he must, by study, imagination, 
and natural disposition, be perfect master of his part, 
must have all bodily requisites at his command, and 
must be upheld by a certain youthful energy. But 
study is not enough without imagination, and study and 
imagination together are not enough without natural 
disposition. Women do the most through imagina- 
tion and temperament ; thence came the excellence of 
Madame Wolff,” 

We pursued this subject further, talking of many of 
the chief actors of the Weimar stage, and mentioning 


202 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


their performance in several parts with due acknow- 
ledgment. 

In the mean while, ‘“‘ Faust” came once more into 
my head, and I talked of the manner in which the 
Homunculus could be rendered clear upon the stage. 
“ If we do not see the little man himself,” said I, 
‘‘ we must see the light in the bottle, and his important 
words must be uttered in a way that would surpass the 
capacity of a child.” 

“ Wagner,” said Goethe, “* must not let the bottle 
go out of his hands, and the voice must sound as if it 
issued from the bottle. It would be a part for a 
ventriloquist such as I have heard. A man of that 
kind would solve the difficulty to a certainty.” 

We then talked of the Grand Carnival, and the 
possibility of representing it upom the stage. “ It 
would be a little more than the market-place at 
Naples,” said I. 

“ It would require a very large theatre,” said Goethe, 
‘¢ and is hardly to be imagined.” 

“J hope to see it some day,” was my answer. 
*<] look forward with especial delight to the ele- 
phant, led by Prudence, and surmounted by Victory, 
with Hope and Fear in chains on each side. ‘This 
is an allegory that could not easily be surpassed.” 

“The elephant would not be the first on the stage,’ 
said Goethe. ‘ At Paris there is one, which forms an 
entire character. He belongs to a popular party, and 
takes the crown from one king and places it on 
another, which must indeed have an imposing effect. 
Then, when he is called at the end of the piece, he 
appears quite alone, makes his bow, and retires. You 


? 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 203 


see, therefore, that we might reckon on an elephant for 
our carnival. But the whole scene is much too large, 
and requires a manager such as is not easily found. 

“¢ Still, it is so brilliant and effective,” said I, “ that 
a stage will scarcely allow it to escape. ‘Then how 
does it build itself up, and become more and more 
striking! First, there are the beautiful gardeners, 
male and female, who decorate the stage, and at the 
same time form a mass, so that the various objects, as 
they increase in importance, are never without spec- 
tators and a background. ‘Then there is the team of 
dragons, which coming from the background, through 
the air, soars overhead. ‘Then the appearance of the 
great Pan with the apparent fire, and its extinction by 
the wet clouds, which roll to the spot. If all this is 
carried out as you have conceived, the public will, in 
its amazement, confess that it has not sense and intellect 
sufficient to appreciate such a profusion of phenomena.” 

«< Pray, no more about the public,” said Goethe ; 
“ J] wish to hear nothing about it. The chief point 
is, that the piece is written; the world may now do 
with it as it pleases, and use it as far as it can.” 

We then talked of the “* Boy Lenker.” 

“¢ ‘That Faust is concealed under the mask of Plutus, 
and Mephistophiles under that of Avarice, you will 
have already perceived. But who is the ‘ Boy Len- 
ker???” 

I hesitated, and could not answer. 

“¢ It is Euphorion,” said Goethe. 

“‘ But how can he appear in the carnival here,” 
asked I, ‘* when he is not born till the third act. 

“« Euphorion,” replied Goethe, ‘¢ is not a human, 


204 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1829. 


but an allegorical being. In him is personified poetry, 
which is bound to neither time, place, nor person. 
The same spirit who afterwards chooses to be Eupho- 
rion, appears here as the ‘ Boy Lenker,’ and is so far 
like a spectre, that he can be present everywhere, and 
at all times. 

Sunday, December 27, 1829. 

To-day, after dinner, Goethe read me the scene of 
the paper-money.* 

“You recollect,” said he, ‘that at the imperial 
assembly the end of the song is that there is a want of 
money, and that Mephistophiles promises to provide 
some. ‘This theme continues through the masquerade, 
when Mephistophiles contrives that the Emperor, while 
in the mask of the great Pan, shall sign a paper, which, 
being thus endowed with a money-value, is multiplied 
a thousand-fold and circulated. Now, in this scene the 
affair is discussed before the Emperor, who does not 
know what he has done. ‘The treasurer hands over 
the bank-notes, and makes everything clear. The 
Emperor is at first enraged, but afterwards, on a closer 
inspection of his profit, makes splendid presents of 
paper-money to those around him, and as he retires 
drops some thousand crowns, which the fat court-fool 
picks up, and then goes off at once to turn his paper 
into land.” 

While Goethe read this noble scene, I was pleased 
with the happy notion of deducing the paper-money 
from Mephistophiles, and thus in so striking a manner 
bringing in and immortalizing one of the main interests 
of the present day. 


* In the second part of ‘ Faust.” 


a i a ee ee) * = pier) - AL 
att - 


1829. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 205 


Scarcely had the scene been read over and discussed, 
when Goethe’s son came down and seated himself with 
us at the table. He told us of Cooper’s last novel, 
which he had read, and which he now described admi- 
rably in his own graphic manner. We made no allu- 
sion to the scene we had just read, but he began of his 
own accord to tell a great deal about Prussian treasury- 
bills, and to say that they were paid for above their 
value. While young Goethe went on talking in this 
way, I looked at the father with a smile, which he 
returned, and thus we gave each other to understand 
how very apropos was the subject of the scene. 


Wednesday, December 30, 1829. 

To-day, after dinner, Goethe read me the next 
scene, 

“ Now they have got money at the imperial court,” 
said he, ‘they want to be amused. ‘The Emperor 
wishes to see Paris and Helen, and they are, through 
magical art, to appear in person. Since, however, 
Mephistophiles has nothing to do with Greek antiquity, 
and has no power over such personages, this task is 
assigned. to Faust, who succeeds in it perfectly. The 
scene showing the means which Faust must adopt to 
render the apparition possible is not quite complete yet, 
but I will read it to you next time. The actual appear- 
ance of Paris and Helen you shall hear to-day.” 

I was happy in the anticipation of what was coming, 
and Goethe began to read. I saw the Emperor and 
his court pass through the ancient hall to witness the 
spectacle. “The curtain rises, and the stage, representing 
a great temple, is before my eyes. Mephistophiles is in 


206 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1829. 


the prompter’s box, the astrologer is on one side of the 
proscenium, and Faust, with the tripod, on the other. 
He utters the necessary formula, and Paris appears 
rising from the fumes of incense. While this hand- 
some youth is moving about to ethereal music, a 
description of him is given. He sits down, and leans 
with his arm bent on his head, as we find him in an- 
cient sculptures. He is the delight of the ladies, who 
express how they are charmed by the bloom of his 
youth, and is hated by the men, who are moved by 
jealousy and hatred, and depreciate him as much as 
they can. Paris goes to sleep, and Helen makes her 
appearance. She approaches the sleeper, imprints a 
kiss upon his lips, retires from him, and then turns 
round to gaze at him. While in the act of turning, 
she looks especially charming, and makes the same 
impression on the men which Paris made upon the 
women. ‘The men are inspired to love and praise, the 
women to envy, hatred, and detraction. Faust himself 
is quite enraptured, and at the aspect of the beauty 
which he has called forth forgets time, place, and cir- 
cumstance, so that Mephistophiles finds it necessary to 
remind him every moment that he is getting out of his 
part. A mutual affection between Paris and Helen 
seems to increase, the youth clasps her to carry her 
away ; Faust is about to tear him from her, but, when 
he turns the key towards him, a violent explosion 
ensues, the apparitions melt into vapour, and Faust 
falls paralyzed to the ground. 









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1830. 


Sunday, January 3, 1830. 
GorTHE showed me the English Annual, ** The 
Keepsake,” for 1830, with very fine engravings, and 
some extremely interesting letters from Lord Byron, 
which I read after dinner. He himself had taken up 
the latest French translation of his ‘¢ Faust,” by Gérard, 
which he turned over, and seemed occasionally to read. 

“Some singular thoughts pass through my head,” 
said he, ‘¢ on reflecting that this book is now read in a 
language over which Voltaire ruled fifty years ago. 
You cannot understand my thoughts upon this subject, 
and have no idea of the influence which Voltaire and 
his great contemporaries had in my youth, and how 
they governed the whole civilized world. My bio- 
graphy does not clearly show what was the influence 
of these men in my youth, and what pains it cost me 
to defend myself against them, and to maintain my 
own ground in a true relation to nature.” 

We talked further about Voltaire, and Goethe 
recited to me his poem ‘ Les Systémes,” from which 
I perceived how he must have studied and appropriated 
such things in early life. 

VOL. Il. P 


210") CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


He praised Gérard’s translation as very successful, 
although mostly in prose. 

“<I do not like,” he said, ‘to read my ‘ Faust,’ any 
more in German, but in this French translation all 
seems again fresh, new, and spirited.” 

“ ¢ Faust,’ ”’ continued he, ‘is, however, quite in- 
commensurable, and all attempts to bring it nearer to 
the understanding are in vain. Also, it should be con- 
sidered that the first part is the product of a somewhat 
dark state in the individual. However, this very dark- 
ness has a charm for men’s minds, and they work upon 
it till they are tired, as upon all insoluble problems.” 


Sunday, January 10, 1830. 

This afternoon, Goethe afforded me great pleasure 
by reading the scene in which Faust visits the 
Mothers. 

The novelty and unexpectedness of the subject, and 
Goethe’s manner of reading the scene, struck me so 
forcibly, that I felt myself wholly transported into the 
situation of Faust when he shudders at the communi- 
cation from Mephistophiles. 

Although I had heard and felt the whole, yet so 
much remained an enigma to me, that I felt myself 
compelled to ask Goethe for some explanation. But 
he, in his usual manner, wrapped himself up in mys- 
tery, as he looked on me with wide open eyes, and 
repeated the words— 


“¢¢Die Mutter! Miitter! ’s klingt so wunderlich.’” 
The Mothers! Mothers! nay, it sounds so strange. 


‘“¢] can reveal to you no more,” said he, “‘ except 
that I found, in Plutarch, that in ancient Greece men- 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 2uT 


tion was made of the Mothers as divinities. This is 
all that I owe to others, the rest is my own inven- 
tion, ‘Take the manuscript home with you, study it 
carefully, and see what you can make of it.” 

I was very happy while studying this remarkable 
scene once more in quiet, and took the following view 
of the peculiar character and influence, the abode and 
outward circumstances, of the Mothers :— 

Could we imagine that that huge sphere our earth 
had an empty space in its centre, so that one might go 
hundreds of miles in one direction, without coming in 
contact with anything corporeal, this would be the 
abode of those unknown goddesses to whom Faust 
descends. They live, as it were, beyond all place; 
for nothing stands firm in their neighbourhood: they 
also live beyond all time ; for no heavenly body shines 
upon them which can rise or set, and mark the alter- 
nation of day and night. 

Thus, dwelling in eternal obscurity and loneliness, 
these Mothers are creative beings; they are the 
creating and sustaining principle from which every- 
thing proceeds that has life and form on the surface 
of the earth, Whatever ceases to breathe returns 
to them as a spiritual nature, and they preserve it 
until a fit occasion arises to come into existence anew. 
All souls and forms of what has been, or will be, 
hover about like clouds in the vast space of their 
abode. So are the Mothers surrounded, and the 
magician must enter their dominion, if he would 
obtain power over the form of a being, and call back 
former existences to seeming life. 

The eternal metamorphosis of earthly existence, 

Pa 


212: CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [18 30.: 


birth and growth, destruction and new formation, are. 
thus the unceasing care of the Mothers; and, as in. 
everything which receives new life on earth, the female 
principle is most in operation, these creating divinities 
are rightly thought of as female, and the august title of 
Mothers may be given to them not without reason. 

All this is, indeed, no more than a poetic creation ; 
but the limited human mind cannot penetrate much 
further, and is contented to find something on which it 
can repose. Upon earth we see phenomena, and feel 
effects, of which we do not know whence they come 
and whither they go. We infer a spiritual origin— 
something divine, of which we have no notion, and 
for which we have no expression, and which we must 
draw down to ourselves, and anthropomorphize, that 
we may in some degree embody and make compre- 
hensible our dark forebodings. 

Thus have arisen all mythi, which from century to 
century have lived among nations, and, in like manner, 
this new one of Goethe’s, which has at least the. 
appearance of some natural truth, and may be reckoned 
among the best that was ever devised. 


(Sup.*) Monday, January 18, 1830. 
Goethe spoke of Lavater, and said a great deal in 
praise of his character. He also related to me traits of 
their early intimate friendship, and how in former times 
they had often slept in the same bed. “ It is to be 
regretted,” continued he, ‘ that a weak mysticism so 
soon set bounds to the flight of his genius.” 


(Sup.*) Friday, January 22, 1830. 
We spoke about the History of Napoleon by Wal- 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 2%3 


ter Scott. ‘It is true,” said Goethe, ‘ that the 
author may be reproached with great inaccuracy, and 
equally great partiality, but even these two defects 
give to his work particular value in my eyes. The 
success of the book, in England, was great beyond all 
expectation ; and hence we see that Walter Scott, in 
this very hatred for Napoleon and the French, has 
been the true interpreter and representative of the 
English popular opinion and national feeling. © His 
book will not be by any means a document for the 
history of France, but it will be one for the history of 
England. At all events, it is a voice which could not 
be wanting in this important historical process. 

“Tt is generally agreeable to me to hear the most 
contrary opinions of Napoleon. I am now reading 
the work by Bignon, which appears to me to possess 
particular merit.” 

Sunday, January 24, 1830. | 

“« T have lately received a letter from a celebrated 
salt-miner at Stotternheim,” said Goethe, ‘* which 
opens in a remarkable manner, and which I must 
communicate to you,” 

s¢ T have had an experience,” he’ writes, ** which 
will not be lost upon me. But what follows this 
introduction? Nothing less than a loss of at least a 
thousand dollars. The shaft, whence you go down 
twelve hundred feet to the rock-salt, through a soft 
soil and stone, he has incautiously neglected to prop 
up at the sides. ‘The soft soil has detached itself, and 
has so filled up the pit, that an extremely expensive 
operation is required to get it out again, He. will, 
then, at a depth of twelve hundred feet, put in metal 


214 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


pipes, to be secure against the consequences of a 
similar mischance. He should have done this at once, 
and he certainly would have done it, were there not in 
such people a degree of rashness of which we have no 
notion, and which is requisite for such enterprises. 
He is very easy about his misfortune, and writes, 
‘T have had an experience which will not be lost upon 
me.’ This is quite the sort of man that one likes; a 
man who, without complaining, is at once active again, 
and always on his feet. What say you to it? Is it 
not good ?” 

“¢ It reminds me of Sterne,” I replied, ‘‘ who com- 
plains that he had not used his sorrows like a reason- 
able man.” 

‘¢ It is something similar,” said Goethe. 

‘© Tam also reminded of Behrisch,” continued I, 
“¢ when he tells you what experience is. I have lately 
been reading the chapter for renewed edification.* 

“¢ ¢ Experience,’ says he, ‘¢‘is nothing else than that 
one experiences by experience what one would not 
willingly have experienced.’ ” 

“ Yes,” said Goethe, smiling, ‘‘ such are the old 
jokes with which we so shamefully wasted our 
time.” 

“¢ Behrisch,” said I, ‘*seems to have been a man 
full of grace and elegance. How pleasant is the joke 
in the wine-cellar, where he tries to prevent the young 
man from visiting his mistress, and accomplishes this 
in the pleasantest manner, fastening on his sword— 
now this way, now that—till he makes everybody 


* That is to say, in Goethe’s Autobiography (Dichtung und Wahrheit), 
Part II. Book vii.— Trans. 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 215 


laugh, and causes the young man to forget the appointed 
time.” 

“< Yes,” said Goethe, ‘¢ that was pleasant ; it would 
have been one of the most attractive scenes on the 
stage ; indeed, Behrisch was altogether a good character 
for the theatre.” 

We then talked over all the oddities told of Behrisch 
in Goethe’s “ Life’; his gray clothes, where silk, 
satin, and wool made strong contrasts one with 
another, and his constant care always to dress himself 
in anew gray. Then how he wrote poems, imitated 
the compositor, and extolled the dignity of the pen- 
man ; and how it was his favourite pastime to lie at the 
window, to observe the dress of the passers-by, and in 
his thoughts so to alter it that the people would have 
been highly ridiculous if so attired. 

“¢ Then his ordinary joke with the postman ; how 
do you like it? is not that droll?” 

«J do not know it,” said I; * there is nothing 

about it in your memoirs.” 
- © Strange!” said Goethe, ‘ then I will tell it you. 
When we were lying together at the window, and 
Behrisch saw the letter-carrier coming up the street, 
and going from one house to another, he would take 
out a groschen, and lay it by him on the window- 
sill. 

«¢¢ Do you see the letter-carrier?’ said he, turning 
tome. ‘ He is coming nearer and nearer, and will be 
over here immediately, I can see: he has a letter for 
you ; and what a letter! no ordinary affair, but a letter 
with a check in it; with a check for—I will not say 
how much ; see, he is coming in, No! but he will 


216 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


come immediately. There he is again. Now! 
Here! here! my friend, this is the place! He goes 
by—how stupid! O, how stupid! how can one be 
so stupid, and act so unjustifiably! Unjustifiably in 
two respects! Unjustifiably towards you, to whom 
he does not bring the check which he had in his 
hands ; and quite unjustifiably towards himself, to lose 
this groschen, which I had taken out for him, and 
which I now put up again.’ Then, with the great- 
est dignity, he would put the groschen again into his 
pocket, and we had something to laugh at.” 

I was amused with this anecdote, which was quite 
of a piece with the rest. I asked Goethe whether he 
had ever seen Behrisch in later days. 

*¢ | saw him again,” said Goethe, ‘* soon after my 
arrival at Weimar, about the year 1776, when in com- 
pany with the Duke I made a visit to Dessau, whither 
Behrisch had been invited as tutor of the Crown 
Prince. I found him the same as ever—as a polished 
courtier of the best humour.” 

“ What did he say,” asked I, ‘* about your becom- 
ing so famous in the interval.” 

*«¢ Did I not tell you so,’ were his first words, ¢ was 
it not right that you did not have your verses printed 
then, and that you waited till you had done something 
really good? the things were indeed not so bad, other- 
wise I should not have written them out. If we had 
remained together, you should not have had even the 
others printed. I would have copied them out for you, 
and they would have gone off quite as well.’ You see 
he was the same as ever. He was liked at Court. [ 
always saw him at the Prince’s table. I saw him for 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 217 


the last time in the year 1801, when he had become 
old, but was still in the best humour. He occupied 
some very handsome apartments in the castle, one of 
which he completely filled with geraniums, which were 
‘then all the rage. Now the botanists had made some 
distinctions and divisions among the geraniums, and 
had given a.certain class the name of pelargoniums. 
This the old gentleman could not bear, and he abused 
the botanists sorely. ‘ The blockheads !’ said he, ‘ I 
think I have filled my room with geraniums, and now 
they come in and tell me they are pelargoniums. What 
have I to do with them if they are not geraniums, and 
what have I to do with pelargoniums.’ Thus he would 
go on for the half hour together, and you will see that 
he quite kept up his old character.” 

We then talked about the ‘ Classical Walpurgis- 
night,” * the beginning of which Goethe ‘had lately read 
me. 

“<The mythological figures which crowd upon me,” 
said he, ‘¢ are innumerable, but I restrain myself, and 
merely select those that produce the proper pictorial 
effect. Faust has now met Chiron, and I hope I 
Shall be successful with the scene. If I work hard 
I shall have done the Walpurgis-night in a couple of 
months. Nothing more shall take me off ‘ Faust,’ for it 
will be odd enough if I live to finish it, and yet it is 
possible. ‘The fifth act is as good as done, and the 
fourth will almost write itself.” 

Goethe then talked about his health, and congratu- 
lated himself about keeping so constantly well. ‘* My 
good state of preservation,” said he, ‘I owe to Vogel— 


* In the second part of ‘¢ Faust.”—Trans. 


218 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


without him I should have gone off long ago. Vogel 
was born for a physician, and is one of the most decided 
geniuses I ever knew. However, we will not say 
how good he is, for fear he should be taken away from 
wus.”’ 

(Sup.*) Monday, January 25, 1830. 

I brought Goethe the indexes of Dumont's literary 
remains, which I had made as a preparation for their 
publication. Goethe read them with great attention, 
and appeared astonished at the mass of knowledge, 
interest, and ideas, which he had reason to suppose 
existed in the author of such varied and copious manu- 
scripts. 

*¢ Dumont,” said he, * must have possessed a mind 
of great extent. Amongst the subjects which he has 
treated there is not one which is not interesting and 
important in itself, and the choice of subjects always 
shows of what stuff a man is made, It is not desirable 
that the human intellect should possess such univer- 
sality as to treat all subjects with equal talent and 
felicity ; but even if the author does not succeed 
equally with them all, the mere attempt and desire to 
treat them give me a very high opinion of him. I 
consider it particularly remarkable and estimable that a 
practical, useful, and benevolent tendency prevails in 
all he does.” 

I had also brought him the first chapter of the 
*¢’Travels to Paris,” which I would have read to him, 
but which he preferred to study alone. 

He then joked upon the difficulty of reading, and 
the presumption of many people, who, without any 
previous study and preparatory knowledge, would at 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 219 


once read every philosophical and scientific work, as if 
it were nothing but a romance. ‘* The good people,” 
_ continued he, ‘* know not what time and trouble it 
costs to learn to read. I have been employed for 
eighteen years on it, and cannot say that I have reached 
the goal yet.” 

(Sup.) Wednesday, January 27, 1830. 

I dined very happily with Goethe. He spoke with 
great commendation of Herr von Martius. ‘ His 
discovery of the spiral tendency,” said he, ‘is of the 
highest importance. If I had anything more to desire 
in him, it would be that he should carry out his dis- 
covered primitive phenomenon (Urphinomenon) with 
decided boldness, and have the courage to announce a 
fact as a law, without too much seeking its confirma- 
tion at a distance.” 

He then showed me the transactions of the natural 
philosophical assembly at Heidelberg, with fac-similes 
of the handwriting printed on the back, which we 
observed, and formed our conclusions upon the cha- 
racter. 

“| know very well,” said Goethe, ‘that science 
does not derive so much benefit from these meetings as 
one might imagine, but they are excellent, inasmuch as 
people learn to know and esteem one another ; whence 
it follows that a new doctrine of a distinguished man 
gains currency, and he in his turn becomes inclined to 
acknowledge and assist us in our tendencies of another 
department. Under every circumstance we see that 
something happens, and no one can tell what may 
come of it.” | 

Goethe then showed me a letter from an English 


220 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


author, with the address—To his Highness the Prince 
Goethe. _ * For this title I have probably to thank the 
German. journalists,” said Goethe, laughing, ‘ who, 
out of too great love, have named me the prince of 
German poets. And the consequence of :the innocent 
German error, is the equally innocent English one.” - 

‘Goethe then: returned to Herr von Martius, and 
praised him for possessing imagination. ‘In fact,” 
continued he, ‘¢a great natural philosopher without 
this high gift is impossible. I do not mean an imagina- 
tion which goes into the vague and imagines things 
which do not exist; but I mean one which does not 
abandon the actual soil of the earth, and which steps to 
supposed and conjectured things by the standard of the 
real and the known. ‘Then it may prove whether this 
or that supposition be possible, and whether it is not in 
contradiction with known laws. Such an imagination 
presupposes an enlarged tranquil] mind, which has at its . 
command a wide survey of the living world and its 
laws.” 

Whilst we were speaking, a packet arrived contain- 
ing a translation of ‘* Die Geschwister” (the Brother 
and Sister) into Bohemian, which appeared to give 
Goethe great pleasure. 

Sunday, January 31, 1830. 

Dined with Goethe. We talked of Milton. 

“ T have lately,” said Goethe, ‘ read his ‘ Samson,’ 
which has more of the antique spirit than any produc- 
tion of any other modern poet. He is very great, and 
his own blindness enabled him to describe with so much 
truth the situation of Samson. Milton was really a 
poet; one to whom we owe all possible respect.” 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE.» 221: 


The newspapers were brought in, and we saw in 
the Berlin theatrical intelligence that whales and sea- 
monsters had been introduced on the stage there. 

_ Goethe read in the French paper “ Le Temps,” an 
article on the enormous revenue of the English clergy, 
which amounts to more than in all the rest of Christen- 
dom put together. 

“It has been maintained,” said Goethe, ‘that the 
world is governed by pay; this I know, that from pay 
we can find out whether it is well or ill governed.” 


(Sup.*) Sunday, January 31, 1830. 

Paid a visit to Goethe, in company with the Prince. 
He received us in his work-room. 

We spoke of the different editions of his weit 
when I was surprised to hear that he himself did not 
possess the greater part of these editions. He had not 
even the first edition of his ‘* Roman Carnival,” with 
engravings from his own original drawings. He had 
bid, he said, six dollars for it at an auction, but did not 
get it. 

He then showed us the first manuscript of his 
“« Gotz von Berlichingen,” quite in the original form, 
just as he had written it fifty years ago, in a few weeks, 
at the instigation of his sister. The fine strokes of the 
handwriting already bore completely the free clear 
character which his later German writing afterwards 
retained, and retains even now. ‘The manuscript was 
very clear, whole pages could be read without the least 
correction, so that one would rather take it for a copy 
than the first rough draft. 

Goethe wrote his earliest works, as he told us, with 


222 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


his own hand, even his “* Werther”; but the manu- 
script has been lost. In later times, on the contrary, 
he has dictated almost everything, and there are only 
poems and lightly noted sketches in his own hand. 
Very often he did not think of taking a copy of a 
new production; but frequently abandoned the most 
valuable works to chance, often sending the only 
copy he possessed to the printing-office at Stutt- 
gard. 

After we had sufficiently looked at the manuscript of 
“ Gétz von Berlichingen,” Goethe showed us the 
original of his ‘Italian Journey.” In these daily 
noted down observations and remarks, there are the 
same good qualities in the handwriting as in the 
“ Gotz.” All is decided, firm, and sure ; there are no 
corrections; and one sees that the details of his 
momentary notes were always fresh and clear in the 
mind of the writer. Nothing could have been changed 
for the better excepting the paper, which was different 
in form and colour in every town at which the traveller 
stopped. 

Towards the end of the manuscript I found a spirited 
pen-and-ink drawing by Goethe, namely, the repre- 
sentation of an Italian advocate, holding a speech before 
the court in his robe of office. It was the most 
remarkable figure that one could imagine, and the 
dress was so striking, that one would have thought he 
had chosen it to go to a masquerade. And yet all was 
but a faithful copy of real life. With his forefinger 
upon the point of his thumb, and the rest of his fingers 
stretched out, the stout orator stood comfortably 
enough, and this slight movement was in perfect 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 223 


accordance with the great perruque with which he 
had adorned himself. 


Wednesday, February 3, 1830. 


Dined with Goethe. We talked of Mozart. 

“TI saw him,” said Goethe, “at seven years old, 
when he gave a concert while travelling our way. I 
myself was about fourteen years old, and remember 
perfectly the little man, with his frisure and sword.” 

I stared, for it seemed to me almost wonderful that 


Goethe was old enough to have seen Mozart when a 
child. 


(Sup.*) Wednesday, February 3, 1830. 


We spoke of the ‘* Globe” and the ‘“* Temps,” and 
this led to the French literature and literati. 

“ Guizot,” said Goethe, amongst other things, ‘ is 
a man after my own heart; he is solid. He possesses 
deep knowledge, combined with an enlightened liberal- 
ity, which being above parties goes its own way. I 
am curious to see what part he will play in the Cham- 
ber, to which he has just been elected.” 

*¢ People, who only appear to know him super- 
ficially,”’ returned I, “ have described him as some- 
what pedantic.” 

“Jt remains to be known,” answered Goethe, 
“ with what sort of pedantry he is reproached. All 
distinguished men who, in their mode of life adopt a 
sort of regularity and firm principles, who have 
reflected much, and who do not trifle with the affairs 
of life, may very easily appear to be pedants in the 
eyes of superficial observers. Guizot is a far-seeing, 


224 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830: 


calm, constant man, who in the face of French fickle- 
ness cannot be sufficiently prized, and is exactly such a 
man as they want.” 

* Villemain,” continued Goethe, “ is perhaps more 
brilliant as an orator ; he possesses the art of thoroughly 
developing a subject from its foundation; he is never 
at a loss for striking expressions with which to fix the 
attention of his hearers, and awaken them to loud 
applause ; but he is far more superficial than Guizot, 
and far less practical. 

** As for Cousin, he can indeed give little to us 
Germans, since the philosophy which he introduces to 
his countrymen as something new, has been known to 
us for years; but he is of great importance for the 
French. He will give them an entirely new tendency. 

“ Cuvier, the great naturalist, is admirable for his 
power of representation and his style. No one ex- 
pounds a fact better than he; but he has scarcely any 
philosophy. He will bring up very well informed, but 
few profound scholars.” 

It was the more interesting to me to hear all this, as 
it accorded with Dumont’s view of the persons in 
question. I promised Goethe to copy the passages 
relating to this subject from Dumont’s manuscript, 
that he might compare them with his own opinion. 

The mention of Dumont brought the conversation 
to the intimacy of Dumont with Bentham, on which 
subject Goethe expressed himself as follows :— 

“It is an interesting problem for me,” said he, 
“‘ when I see that a rational and moderate man like 
Dumont could be the disciple and faithful worshipper 
of that madman Bentham.” 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 225 


“To a certain extent,’”’ returned I, “ Bentham is 
to be looked upon as a twofold person. I distinguish 
Bentham the genius—who discovered the principles 
which Dumont rescued from oblivion, by working 
them out—from Bentham the impassioned, who, 
through an exaggerated zeal for utility, overstepped 
the limits of his own doctrine, and thus became a 
radical both in politics and in religion.” 

“That is a new problem for me,” returned 
Goethe, “ that an old man can close the career 
of a long life, by becoming a radical in his last 
days.” 

I endeavoured to solve this contradiction, by re- 
marking that Bentham, being fully convinced of the 
excellence of his doctrine and his legislation, and of the 
impossibility of introducing them into England without 
an entire change in the system of Government, allowed 
himself to be carried away so much the more by his 
passionate zeal, as he came but little into contact with 
the outward world, and was unable to judge of the 
danger of violent overthrow. 

** Dumont, on the contrary,” continued I, “ who 
possesses more clearness and less passion, has never 
approved of Bentham’s exaggeration, and has been far 
removed from falling into a like fault himself. Besides, 
he has had the advantage of applying Bentham’s prin- 
ciples in a country which, in consequence of the 
political events of the times, might be regarded as 
new—namely, in Geneva, where everything perfectly 
succeeded, and the fortunate result proved the worth 
of the principle.” 

‘* Dumont,” returned Goethe, “is a moderate 

VOL, II. Q 


> 


226 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


liberal, just as all rational people are and ought to 
be, and as I myself am. It is in this spirit 1 have 
endeavoured to act during a long life.” 

‘¢ ‘The true liberal,’’ he continued, ‘* endeavours to 
effect as much good as he can, with the means which 
he has at command; but he would not extirpate evils, 
which are often inevitable, with fire and sword. He 
endeavours, by a judicious progress, gradually to 
remove glaring defects, without at the same time de- 
stroying an equal amount of good by violent measures. 
He contents himself in this ever imperfect world 
with what is good, until time and circumstances 
favour his attaining something better.” 


(Sup.) Saturday, February 6, 1830. 

Dined with Frau von Goethe. Young Goethe 
related some pleasant anecdotes of his grandmother, 
‘© Frau Rath Goethe,” of Frankfort, whom he had 
visited twenty years before as a student, and with 
whom he was one day invited to dine at the Prince 
Primate’s. “The Prince, as a mark of particular polite- 
ness, had come to meet the Frau Rath on the stairs ; 
but as he wore his usual clerical costume, she took 
him for an Abbé, and paid him no particular respect. 
Even when first seated by his side at table, she did 
not put on the most friendly face. In the course of 
the conversation, however, she gradually perceived, 
from the deportment of the rest of the guests, that he 
was the Primate. ‘The Prince then drank the health 
of her and her son, whereupon she rose and proposed 
the health of his highness. 


~ 1830.) CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 227 


Sunday, February 7, 1830. 

Dined with Goethe. A great deal of conversation 
about the Prince Primate-—that he had contrived to 
defend him by a skilful turn at the Empress of Aus- 
tria’s table ; the Prince’s deficiency in philosophy ; his 
dilletante love of painting, without taste ; the picture 
given to Miss Gore; his goodness of heart and weak 
liberality, which at last brought him to poverty. Con- 
versation on the nature of the “‘ Desobligeant.” After 
dinner young Goethe, with Walter and Wolf, appeared 
in his masquerade dress, in the character of Klingsohr, 
and then went to Court. 

Wednesday, February 10, 1830. 

Dined.with Goethe. He spoke with real gratifi- 
cation of the poem written by Riemer, for the festival 
of the 2d February. 

«¢ All,”’ added Goethe, ‘* that Riemer does, is fit to 
be seen both by master and journeyman.” 

We talked also of the classic Walpurgis-night, and 
he said that he came to things which surprised even 
himself. The subject, too, had become more diffuse 
than he had expected. 

“ Tam not half through it,” said he, “ but I will 
keep to it, and hope to have finished it by Easter. 
You shall see nothing more of it before, but, as soon 
as it is done, I will give it to you to take home, that 
you may examine it quietly, If you made up the 
thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth volumes,* so that we 
might send off the last part at Easter, it would be a 
good arrangement, and we should have the summer 


* That is, of Goethe’s complete works. 
Q 2 


228 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


open for something great. I would occupy myself 
with Faust, and endeavour to get over the fourth 
act.” 

I was pleased with this notion, and promised every 
assistance on my part. 

Goethe then sent his servant to inquire after the 
Grand-Duchess Dowager, who had been very ill, and 
seemed to him in a dangerous situation. 

“ She should not have seen the masquerade,” said 
he ; “ but princes are accustomed to have their own 
way, and thus all the protests of the Court and the 
physicians were in vain. With the same strong will 
with which she once confronted Napoleon, she now 
resists her bodily weakness; and can foresee already 
that she will go off, like the Grand-Duke, in: the full 
vigour and mastery of her mind, although her body 
may have ceased to obey it.” 

Goethe appeared in low spirits, and remained silent 
for a while. Soon, however, we again conversed on 
cheerful subjects; and he told me of a book written 
in defence of Sir Hudson Lowe. 

“Tt contains,” he said, ‘* most valuable traits, 
which can only have been derived from immediate 
eye-witnesses. You know that Napoleon ordinarily 
wore a dark-green uniform. It was at last so much 
worn and sun-burnt as entirely to lose its colour, and a 
necessity was felt of supplying its place with another. 
He wished for the same dark-green colour, but no 
article of the sort was to be found in the island. There 
was indeed a green cloth, but the colour was not pure, 
and ran into a yellowish tinge. ‘The lord of the world 
found it intolerable to put such a colour on his body, 


1830.] | CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 229 


and nothing was left but to turn his old uniform, and 
wear it in that way. 

“What do you say to that? Is it not a perfectly 
tragic trait? Is it not touching to see the master of 
kings so reduced at last that he must wear a turned 
uniform? And yet, when we reflect that such an end 
befell a man who had trampled under foot the life and 
happiness of millions, his fate appears after all very mild, 
Fate is here a Nemesis, who, in consideration of the 
hero’s greatness, cannot avoid being a little generous. 
Napoleon affords us an example of the danger of 
elevating oneself to the Absolute, and sacrificing every- 
thing to the carrying out of an idea.” 

We said a good deal more in reference to this sub- 
ject, and I then went to the theatre to see the “ Star 


of Seville.” 
(Sup.*) Wednesday, February ro, 1830. 


To-day, after dinner, I was for a moment with 
Goethe. He rejoiced at the approaching spring, and 
the increasing length of the days. We then spoke of 
the theory of colours. He appeared to doubt the pos- 
sibility of opening a path for his simple theory. ‘¢ The 
errors of my opponents,” said he, ‘‘ have been too 
generally spread during a century for me to hope to 
find any companions on my solitary way. I shall 
remain alone! I often compare myself to a ship- 
wrecked man, who has seized upon a plank which 
is only sufficient to bear one person. ‘This one is 
saved, whilst all the rest are miserably drowned. 


Sunday, February 14, 1830. 
To-day, on my way to Goethe, who had invited me 
to dinner, I heard of the Grand-Duchess Dowager’s 


230 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


death, which had just happened. ‘ What effect will 
this news have on Goethe at his advanced age?” was 
my first thought, and I entered the house with some 
apprehension. The servants said his daughter-in-law 
was gone to him to tell him the sad news. 

“For more than fifty years,” thought I, ‘‘ he was 
attached to this princess, and blessed with her especial 
favour and friendship; her death must deeply move him.” 

With such feelings I entered his room, but was not 
a little surprised to find him in his usual cheerfulness 
and vigour, taking his soup with his daughter-in-law 
and grandchildren, as if nothing had happened. 

We went on talking cheerfully of indifferent things. 
Presently all the bells began to toll ; Frau von Goethe 
looked at me, and we talked louder, that the tone of 
the death-bells might not shock him; for we thought 
he felt like us. However, he did not feel like us ; his 
mind was in a wholly different position. He sat be- 
fore us, like a being of a higher order, inaccessible to 
earthly woes. 

Hofrath Vogel was announced. He sat down, and 
told us all the circumstances of the last hours of the noble 
departed ; to which Goethe listened with the same per- 
fect calmness and composure. Vogel went away, and we 
continued our conversation at dinner on other subjects. 

We talked a great deal about the ‘‘ Chaos,” and 
Goethe praised the ‘‘ Reflections on Play,” in the last 
number, as excellent. When Frau von Goethe retired 
with her children, I was left alone with Goethe. 

He talked to me of his classic Walpurgis-night, say- 
ing he was getting forward in it every day, and effecting 
wonderful things, beyond his expectation. 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 231 


He then showed me a letter which he had to-day 
received from the King of Bavaria, and which I read 
with great interest. The King’s true and noble turn 
of mind was manifest in every line; and Goethe 
seemed much pleased by his remaining so constantly 
the same towards him. 

Hofrath Soret was now announced, and joined us ; he 
came with a message of condolence from her Imperial 
Highness to Goethe, which contributed to make him 
even more cheerful. He continued the conversation, 
and spoke of the celebrated Ninon de.!’Enclos, who, 
in her sixteenth year, and in all her beauty, lay apparently 
on her deathbed, and with the most perfect composure 
comforted those who stood around it, saying, ‘*‘ What 
is it, after all? I leave mere mortals behind me!” 
However, she lived to the age of ninety ; after having 
to her eightieth year made happy or desperate hundreds 
of lovers. 

Goethe then talked of Gozzi, and his theatre at 
Venice, where the actors had merely subjects given 
them, and filled up the details impromptu. Gozzi 
said there were only six-and-thirty tragic situations. 
Schiller thought there were more, but could never suc- 
ceed in finding even so many. 

Then many interesting things were said about 
Grimm; his life and character, and his distrust of 
paper-money. 

(Sup.*) Sunday, February 14, 1830.* 

This was a day of mourning for Weimar; the 
Grand-Duchess Louise died this afternoon, at half-past 


* This conversation, recorded by Soret, is the same as the preceding one 
"recorded by Eckermann, but is given at greater length. —Trans, 


232 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [ 1830. 


one o’clock. The reigning Grand-Duchess ordered 
me to pay visits of condolence, in her name, to Frau- 
lein von Waldner and Goethe. 

I went first to Fraulein von Waldner. I found her 
in tears and deep affliction, quite abandoned to the feel- 
ing of her loss. ‘I was,” said she, ‘¢ for more than 
fifty years in the service of the late Princess. She 
herself chose me for her maid of honour. And this 
free choice on her side was my pride and my happiness. 
I forsook my native land to live in her service. Would 
she had now taken me with her, that I should not 
have so long té sigh for a reunion !” 

I then went to Goethe. But how very different 
was his condition! He certainly did not feel the loss 
less deeply ; but he appeared to be perfectly master of 
his own feelings. I found him sitting at dinner with a 
good friend, and drinking a bottle of wine. He spoke 
with animation, and appeared to be altogether in a very 
cheerful mood. ‘ Well,” said he, when he saw me, 
“come here, take your place. The blow which has 
long menaced us has at last fallen, and at least we have 
no longer to struggle with cruel uncertainty. We 
must now see how we can reconcile ourselves to life 
again.” 

“These are your comforters,” said I, pointing to 
his papers. ‘* Work is an excellent means of reviving 
our spirits under trials.” 

“ As long as it is day,” returned Goethe, “‘ we can 
keep our heads up, and as long as we can produce we 
shall not fail.” 

He then spoke of persons who had attained a great 
age, and mentioned the renowned Ninon, 


92 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 233 


“Even in her ninetieth year,” said he, ‘* she was 
young ; but she understood how to maintain her equili- 
brium, and did not trouble herself with worldly affairs 
more than she ought. Death itself inspired her with 
no very great respect. When in her eighteenth * year 
she was afflicted with a severe illness, and the by- 
standers represented to her the danger she was in, she 
said quite calmly—‘* What would it be after all? I 
should leave only mortals behind me!’ She lived 
seventy years after that, amiable and beloved, and 
enjoying all the pleasures of life ; but with this peculiar 
equanimity constantly upholding herself above every 
consuming passion. Ninon knew what she was about; 
there are few who imitate her.” 

He then handed me a letter from the King of Bavaria, 
which he had received to-day, and which probably 
contributed not a little to his cheerful humour. 
“* Read,” said he, ‘* and confess that the kindness 
which the King continually shows me, and the lively 
interest which he takes in the progress of literature and 
the higher human development, is calculated to give 
me pleasure. And I thank Heaven, as for a par- 
ticular favour, that I have received this letter just on 
this day.” 

We then spoke of the theatre, and dramatic poetry. 

“ Gozzi,” said Goethe, ‘* would maintain that there 
are only six-and-thirty ‘tragical situations. Schiller 
took the greatest pains to find more, but he did not 
find even so many as Gozzi,” 

This led to an article in the ‘* Globe,” viz., a criti- 
cal exposition of the ‘“* Gustavus Vasa” of Arnault, 


* ¢ Sixteenth” in Eckermann’s narrative.—-Trans. 


234 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


The style and manner which the critic adopted, gave 
Goethe great pleasure, and received his perfect appro- 
bation. The judge has contented himself with men- 
tioning all the reminiscences of the author, without 
further attacking him or his poetical principles. 

“ The critic of ‘ Le Temps,’” added Goethe, ‘ has 
not been so wise. He presumes to point out to the 
poet the way he should go. ‘This is a great fault ; for 
one cannot thus make him better. Generally, there is 
nothing more foolish than to say to a poet: * You 
should have done this in this way—and that in that. 
I speak from long experience. One can never make 
anything of a poet but what nature has intended him 
to be. If you force him to be another, you will 
destroy him. Now the gentlemen of the ‘ Globe,’ as 
I said before, act very wisely. ‘They print a long list 
of al] the commonplaces which M. Arnault has picked 
up from every hole and corner; and by doing this 
they very cleverly point out the rock which the 
author has to avoid in future. It is almost impos- 
sible, in the present day, to find a situation which is 
thoroughly new. It is merely the manner of looking 
at it, and the art of treating and representing it, which 
can be new, and one must be the more cautious of 
every imitation.” 

Goethe then related to us how Gozzi managed his 
“Teatro del Arte” in Venice, and how much his 
improvising troop was liked. ‘I have,” said he, 
“ seen two actresses of that troop, particularly * La 
Brighella’; and I have seen several other improvised 
pieces of the sort. The effect produced by these 
people was extraordinary.” 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 235 


Goethe then spoke of the Neapolitan ‘ Pulcinella.” 
*€ One of the chief jokes of this hero of low comedy,” 
said he, ‘* consisted in seeming sometimes to forget 
his part as an actor. He pretended to have returned 
home, talked familiarly with his family, told them about 
the piece in which he had acted, and of another in which 
he was about to act,—‘ But, my dear husband,’ his 
wife would exclaim, ‘ you appear to forget the august 
company in whose presence you are.’ ‘E Vero! 
E Vero!’ returned Pulcinella, recollecting himself; 
and then, amidst the applause of the spectators, he 
returned to his former part. The theatre of Pulcinella 
is in such repute, that no one in good society boasts 
of having been there. Ladies, as you may suppose, 
never go there at all; it is only frequented by men. 
Pulcinella is, in fact, a sort of living newspaper. Every- 
thing remarkable that has happened in Naples during 
the day may be heard from him in the evening. 
However, these local allusions, combined with his low 
popular dialect, make it almost impossible for foreigners 
to understand him.” 

Goethe turned the conversation to other remini- 
scences of his former days. He spoke of his small 
confidence in paper currency, and of the experiences 
he had had in this respect. By way of confirmation, 
he told us an anecdote of Grimm, about the time of 
the French Revolution, when thinking it no longer 
safe to remain in Paris, he returned to Germany, and 
lived at Gotha. 

“© We were one day dining at Grimm’s,”’ said 
Goethe. ‘ I know not now how the conversation 
led to it, but Grimm said: * I wager that no monarch 


236 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [1830. 


in Europe possesses so costly a pair of ruffles as I do; 
and that no one has paid so high a price as I have. 
You may imagine that we loudly expressed incredulous 
astonishment, particularly the ladies, and that we were 
all very curious to see so wonderful a pair of ruffles. 
Grimm rose accordingly, and brought from his press 
a pair of lace ruffles, of such beauty, that we all burst 
into loud admiration. We endeavoured to set a price 
upon them, but still we could not value them more 
highly than at about a hundred or two hundred louis 
dor. Grimm laughed and exclaimed: ‘ You are very 
far from the mark; I paid twice a hundred and fifty 
thousand francs, and was lucky in laying out my 
assignats so well. The next day they were not 
worth a groschen.’” 


Sup.*) Monday, February 15, 1830. 
P y 5 


I was this morning with Goethe for a moment, to 
inquire after his health in the name of the Grand- 
Duchess. I found him sad and thoughtful, without 
a trace of yesterday’s rather violent excitement. He 
appeared to-day to feel deeply the chasm which death 
had made in a friendly intimacy of fifty years. 

“© T must work very hard,” said he, ‘‘ to keep 
myself up, and to support myself under this sudden 
separation. Death is something so strange, that, not- 
withstanding all experience, one thinks it impossible 
for it to seize a beloved object ; and it always presents 
itself as something incredible and unexpected. It is, to 
a certain extent, an impossibility which suddenly be- 
comes a reality. And this transition from an existence 
which we know, to another of which we know nothing, 


ee eR eRe A ee Pc a 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 237 


is something so violent, that it cannot take place with- 
out the greatest shock to the survivors.” 


Wednesday, February 17, 1830. 

We talked of the theatre—of the colour of the 
scenes and costumes. ‘The result was as follows :— 

Generally, the scenes should have a tone favourable 
to every colour of the dresses, like Beuther’s scenery, 
which has more or less of a brownish tinge, and brings 
out the colour of the dresses with perfect freshness. 
If, however, the scene-painter is obliged to depart from 
so favourable an undecided tone, and to represent a 
red or yellow chamber, a white tent or a green garden, 
the actors should be clever enough to avoid similar 
colours in their dresses. If an actor in a red uniform 
and green breeches enters a red room, the upper part 
of his body vanishes, and only his legs are seen; 
if, with the same dress, he enters a green garden, his 
legs vanish, and the upper part of his body is con- 
spicuous. ‘Thus I saw an actor in a white uniform 
and dark breeches, the upper part of whose body 
completely vanished in a white tent, while the legs 
disappeared against a dark background. 

“ Even,” said Goethe, “* when the scene-painter is 
obliged to have a red or yellow chamber, or a green 
garden or wood, these colours should be somewhat 
faint and hazy, that every dress in the foreground may 
be relieved and produce the proper effect.” 

We talked about the Iliad, and Goethe called my 
attention to the following beautiful motive,—viz., that 
Achilles is put into a state of inaction for some time, 
that the other characters may appear and develop 
themselves. 


“oS ie ee ee ee 


238 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


Of his “ Wahlverwandtschaften,” he says, that there 
is not a touch in it which he had not experienced, and, 
at the same time, not a touch just as he had expe- 
rienced it. He said the same thing of the Sesenheim 
story.* 

After dinner we looked through a portfolio of the 
Netherland school. A view of a harbour, where on 
one side men are taking in fresh water, and on the 
other some are playing dice on a barrel, gave occasion 
to some fine remarks, as to how the real must be 
avoided, not to injure the effect of a work of art. 
The principal light falls on the top of the barrel; the 
dice are thrown, as may be seen by the gestures of the 
men, but they are not marked on the surface of the 
barrel, as they would have intercepted the light, and 
thus have marred the effect. 

Ruysdael’s studies for his Churchyard were then 
looked over, and we saw what pains even such a 
master had taken. 


Sunday, February 21, 1830. 


Dined with Goethe. He showed me the air-plant 
(Luft-pflanze), which I looked at with great interest. 
I remarked therein an effort to continue its existence 
as long as possible, before permitting its successor to 
manifest itself. 

“¢T have determined,” said Goethe, ‘‘ to read neither 
the ‘Temps’ nor the ‘ Globe,’ for a month to come. 
Things are in such a position, that some event of im- 
portance must happen within that time; I will wait till 
the news comes to me from without. My classical 


* The story of Frederica in ** Dichtung und Wahrheit.”—Trans. 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 239 


Walpurgis-night will gain from this abstinence; be- 
sides, one gets nothing from such interests—a consi- 
deration oftentimes left too much out of mind.” 

He then showed mea letter, written by Boisserée, 
from Munich, which had given him great pleasure, and 
which I likewise read with delight. Boisserée spoke 
especially of the ‘‘ Second Residence in Rome,” and 
on some points in the last number of “* Kunst und 
Alterthum” (Art and Antiquity). His judgment 
showed equal good will and profundity ; and we found 
an opportunity to talk much of the culture and activity 
of this valuable man, 

Goethe then spoke of a new picture, by Cornelius, 
as being very fine in conception and execution ; and 
the remark was made, that the real occasion for the 
good colouring of a picture lay in the composition, 





Afterwards, during a walk, the air-plant came again 
into my mind, and I had the thought that a being goes 
on continuing its existence, and then collects itself to 
reproduce its like. This law of nature reminded me 
of the legend in which we conceive God living alone 
in the beginning of all things, and then creating the 
Son, who is like Himself. So, too, good masters find 
nothing more appropriate to do than to form good 
scholars, by whom their efforts and principles may be 
continued. Even so every work of a poet or artist 
must be looked upon as his /ike; if that is excellent, 
he who made it must also have been excellent. Thus 
no good work by another shall ever excite envy in me, 
since from its existence I must infer that of an excellent 
man worthy to produce it, 


240 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


Wednesday, February 24, 1830. 


Dined with Goethe. We talked of Homer. I 
remarked that the interposition of the gods immediately 
borders on the Real. 

*¢ That is infinitely delicate and human,” said Goethe, 
‘and I thank Heaven the times are gone by when the 
French called this interposition of the gods machinery. 
But really to learn to appreciate merits so vast required 
some time, for it demanded a complete regeneration of 
their culture.” 

He said he had given a new touch to the apparition 
of Helena, to enhance her beauty, which was sug- 
gested by a remark of mine, and did honour to my 
perceptions. 

After dinner, Goethe showed me a sketch from a 
picture by Cornelius—Orpheus, before the throne of 
Pluto, supplicating for the release of Eurydice. The 
picture seemed to us well considered, and the details 
excellent ; yet it did not quite satisfy or yield a genuine 
pleasure to the mind. Perhaps, we thought, the 
colouring may bring with it greater harmony, or per- 
haps the following moment, when Orpheus has con- 
quered the heart of Pluto, and Eurydice is restored to 
him, would have been more favourable. ‘The situation 
would not in that case have been so fraught with 
excitement and expectation, but would rather have 
given complete satisfaction. 

Monday, March 1, 1830. 

Dined at Goethe’s, with Hofrath Voigt, of Jena. 
The conversation turned entirely on subjects of natural 
history, in which Hofrath Voigt displayed the most 
various and comprehensive knowledge. 


FN ay alia itt 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 241 


Goethe mentioned that he had received a letter, 
containing this objection to his system,— that the 
cotyledons are not leaves, because they have no eyes 
behind them. But we satisfied ourselves, by examining 
various plants, that the cotyledons have eyes, as well 
as all the following leaves. 

Voigt says that the apergu of the “ Metamorphosis 
of Plants” is one of the most fruitful discoveries 
which researches into natural history have given to 
modern times. 

We spoke of collections of stuffed birds; and 
Goethe told us how an Englishman kept several hun- 
dreds of living birds in large cages. Some of these 
died, and he had them stuffed. The stuffed birds 
pleased him so well, that the thought occurred to him 
it would be better to kill them all, and have them 
stuffed ; and this whim he at once carried into effect. 

Voigt mentioned that he was about to translate 
Cuvier’s ‘* Natural History,” and publish it, with some 
additions of his own. 

After dinner, when Voigt had gone, Goethe showed 
me the manuscript of his ‘* Walpurgis-nacht,” and I 
was astonished to see to what a bulk it had grown. 


Wednesday, March 3, 1830. 

Went to walk with Goethe before dinner. He 
spoke favourably of my poem on the King of Bavaria, 
observing that Lord Byron had had a favourable influ- 
ence upon me, but that I still wanted what is called 
convenance, in which Voltaire was so great; and he 
recommended me to take him as my model. 

At table we talked of Wieland, particularly of his 

VOL. II. R 


242 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


“Oberon”; and Goethe was of opinion that the 
foundation was weak, and that the plan had not been 
sufficiently thought over before the execution was 
begun. It was not well judged, he thought, to let a 
spirit procure the hairs and teeth, because the hero is 
thus left inactive. But the pregnant, graceful, in- 
genious treatment of this great poet, makes the book 
so attractive to the reader that he never thinks of the 
foundation, but reads on. 

We continued talking on various subjects, till at last 
_ we came to the entelecheia. 

‘* The obstinacy of the individual, and the fact that 
man shakes off what does not suit him,” said Goethe, 
“is a proof to me that something of the kind exists.” 

I had for some minutes thought the same thing, and 
was about to express it, and hence I was doubly 
pleased to hear it uttered by Goethe. 

“* Leibnitz,” he continued, “had similar thoughts 
about independent beings, iol indeed what we term an 
entelecheia, he called a monad.” 

I determined to read further on the subject in Leib- 
nitz. 

(Sup.*) Friday, March 5, 1830. 

A near relation of Goethe’s youthful love, Fraulein 
von Tiirkheim, had spent some time in Weimar. I 
expressed to Goethe to-day my regret at her departure. 
“* She is so young,” said I, ‘ and shows a lofty feel- 
ing, and a mature mind, such as one seldom finds at 
such an age. Besides, her appearance has made a 
great impression at Weimar. If she had remained 
longer, she might have become dangerous to many.” 

‘¢ I am very sorry,” returned Goethe, ‘ that I did 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 243 


not see her oftener; and that I at first constantly 
delayed inviting her, in order that I might converse 
with her undisturbed, and retrace in her the beloved 
features of her relation.” 

“ The fourth volume of ¢ Wahrheit und Dichtung,’” 
continued he, ‘ in which is related the youthful tale of 
happiness and woe relating to my love for Lili, has 
been finished for some time. I should have written 
and published it earlier, if I had not been restrained 
by certain delicate considerations—not on my own 
account, but on account of my beloved, who was then 
living. I should have been proud to proclaim to the 
world how much I loved her, and I think that she 
would not have blushed to confess that my affection 
was returned. But had I the right to publish this 
without her consent? It was always my intention to 
beg for it; but I delayed, until at last it was no longer 
necessary. 

*¢ Whilst you speak with such interest,” continued 
Goethe, “ of the amiable girl who has just left us, you 
awaken in me all my old recollections, I again see 
the charming Lili living before me; it is just as if I 
again felt the aspiration of her loved presence. She 
was, in fact, the first whom I deeply and truly loved. 
I may also say that she was the last ; for all the little 
affections which I have felt, in the after part of my 
life, are, when compared with this first one, only light 
and superficial. 

<< T have never been so near a happiness after my own 
heart,” continued Goethe, “as during the time of this 
love for Lili. The obstacles which separated us were 
not really insurmountable, and yet she was lost to me ! 


R2 


244 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [1830. 


“¢ My affection for her had about it something so 
delicate, and something so peculiar, that even now, in 
the representation of that painfully happy epoch, it has 
an influence upon my style. When at some future 
time, you read the fourth volume of ‘ Wahrheit und 
Dichtung,’ you will find that this love is something 
very different from the love in novels.” 

“ The same might be said,” returned I, ‘¢ of your 
love for Gretchen and Frederica. The description of 
both is so new and original, that novelists do not 
invent or imagine anything like it. This appears to 
proceed from the extreme veracity of the narrator, 
who has not endeavoured to cloak his experiences, in 
order to make them appear to greater advantage, and 
who has avoided every sentimental phrase, where the 
simple statement of the events is sufficient. 

“ Besides, love itself,” continued I, ‘‘ is never alike ; 
it is always original, and always modifies itself accord- 
ing to the character and the personality of those whom 
we love.” 

“ You are perfectly right,” returned Goethe, “ for 
not merely we are the love, but also the beloved object 
that charms us. And then—what we must not forget 
—we have as a powerful third element the Damonic 
(damonisch) which accompanies every passion, and 
which finds its proper element in love. ‘This was 
particularly active in my connection with Lili; it gave 
another turn to my whole life, and I do not say too 
much when I assert that my coming to Weimar, and 
my presence here now, were immediate consequences 
of it.” 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 245 


(Sup.*) Saturday, March 6, 1830. 

Goethe had been reading, for some time, the ‘ Me- 
moirs of St. Simon.” 

‘© With the death of Louis the Fourteenth,” said he 
to me some days ago, “ I came toa stop. Until then 
the dozen volumes interested me to a high degree, 
through the contrast of the will of the master and the 
aristocratic virtue of the servant. But from the 
moment when that monarch takes his departure, and 
another personage enters, who is so bad that St. Simon 
himself appears to advantage by his side, I felt no more 
pleasure in reading; repugnance followed, and I left 
the book where the ‘ Tyrant’ left me.” 

Goethe has also ceased, during the last fortnight, to 
read the ‘“* Globe” and the *“* Temps,” which he had 
read for many months with the greatest ardour. Now, 
when the numbers arrive folded up, he lays them aside 
unopened. However, he begs his friends to tell him 
what is going on in the world. He has been for some 
time very productive, and quite buried in the second 
part of his “ Faust.” It is the classical ‘* Walpur- 
gis-nacht” which has especially absorbed him for some 
weeks, and which is therefore making rapid and strik- 
ing progress. In such thoroughly productive epochs 
Goethe does not like reading, unless, as. something 
light and cheerful, it affords him a healthy repose, or 
stands in harmony and assists him with the subject he 
has immediately in hand. He avoids it, on the con- 
trary, when it has so strong and exciting an effect as to 
disturb his quiet and calm production, and dissipate and 
distract his active interest. The last appears to have 
been the case with the ‘* Globe” and the ‘* Temps.” 


246 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


“¢ T see,” said he, ‘* that important events are about - 
to take place in Paris; we are on the eve of a great 
explosion. But since I have no influence upon it, I 
shall wait for it quietly, without allowing myself to be 
unnecessarily excited every day by the interesting pro- 
gress of the drama. I now read neither the ‘ Globe’ 
nor the ‘ Temps,’ and my ‘ Walpurgis-nacht’ pro- 
gresses the better for it.” 

He spoke of the state of the most modern French 
literature, which interests him much. 

** What the French,” said he, “ in their present 
literary tendency, consider something new, is in fact 
nothing but the reflection of what the German litera- 
ture has intended, and has been for fifty years. The 
germ of the historical pieces which are now new to 
them, is to be found in my ‘ Gotz,’ written half a 
century ago. 

“ Besides,” continued he, ‘‘ the German authors 
have never thought, and have never written with the 
view of exerting an influence over the French. I 
myself have always had only Germany before my eyes, 
and it was only yesterday or the day before that it 
occurred to me to turn my glances westward, to see 
what our neighbours think of me on the other side of 
the Rhine. And even now they have no influence 
over my productions. Wieland himself, who imitated 
the French forms and manner, always remained a 
German at bottom, and would make a bad figure in a 
translation.” 

Sunday, March 7, 1830, 

Went to Goethe about. twelve, and found him 
remarkably fresh and strong. He told me that he had 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 247 


been forced to lay aside the classical Walpurgis-night, 
to finish the last number.* 

“ T have shown my wisdom,” said he, * in leaving 
off when I was in a good vein, and had much to say 
that I had already invented. In this way, it is much 
easier to resume my subject, than if I had gone on 
writing till I came to a stand-still.”” 

I noted down this as good doctrine, We had 
intended to take a walk before dinner, but we both 
found it so pleasant in the room that the horses were 
countermanded. 

In the mean while, Frederic, the servant, had unpacked 
a large chest, which had arrived from Paris. It was a 
present from the sculptor David, of bas-relief portraits 
in plaster of fifty-seven celebrated persons, Frederic 
brought in the casts in the different drawers, and we 
were much amused in looking at all the persons of dis- 
tinction. I was particularly curious about Merimée ; 
the head appeared as powerful and bold as his talent, 
and Goethe remarked that he had something humorous 
about him. Victor Hugo, Alfred de Vigny, Emile 
Deschamps, appeared with clear, free, cheerful faces, 
We were also pleased to see Mademoiselle Gay, 
Madame Tastu, and other young female writers. The 
powerful head of Fabvier reminded us of the men of 
earlier ages ; we felt delight in looking at it again and 
again. 

Thus we went on from one eminent person to 
another, and Goethe could not help saying repeatedly 
that through this present from David he possessed a 
treasure for which he could not sufficiently thank the 


* Of his entire works.—Trans. 


248 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


admirable artist. He would not fail to show this col- 
lection to travellers, and in that way attain verbal 
information about some of those personages who were 
unknown to him. 

Some books had also been packed up in the chest, 
which he had ordered to be taken into the front rooms, 
whither we followed them and sat down to dine. We 
were in good spirits, and spoke of works and plans of 
works, 

“It is not good for man to be alone,” said Goethe, 
*¢ and especially to work alone. On the contrary, he 
needs sympathy and suggestion to do anything well. 
I owe to Schiller the ‘ Achilles,’ and many of my 
ballads, to which he urged me; and you may take the 
credit to yourself, if I complete the second part of 
‘ Faust.’ I have often told you so before, but I must 
repeat it, that you may know it.” 

These words rejoiced me, for I felt that there might 
be much truth in what he said. After dinner, Goethe 
opened one of the packets. ‘This contained the poems 
of Emile Deschamps, accompanied by a letter, which 
Goethe gave me to read. I saw with delight what 
influence was attributed to Goethe over the new life 
of French literature, and how the young poets loved 
and revered him as their intellectual head. Thus had 
Shakspeare worked upon the youth of Goethe. It 
could not be said of Voltaire, that he had had an 
influence of the kind on the young poets of other 
countries, that they assembled in his spirit, and recog- 
nised him as their lord and master. The letter of 
Deschamps was written altogether with a very amiable 
cordiality and freedom. 


1830. } CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 249 


‘“¢ You see there the spring-time of a beautiful mind,” 
said Goethe. 

We found also a leaf, which David had sent with 
drawings of Napoleon’s hat in various positions. 

“« That is something for my son,” said Goethe, and 
sent him the leaf immediately. It produced its effect, 
for young Goethe soon came down full of glee, and 
declared that these hats of his hero were the ne plus 
ultra of his collection. Five minutes had not passed 
before the leaf, under glass and in a frame, was in its 
place among other attributes and monuments of the 
hero. 

(Sup.) Sunday, March 14, 1830. 

This evening at Goethe’s. He showed me all the 
treasures, now put in order, from the chest which he had 
received from David, and with the unpacking of which 
I had found him occupied some days ago. The plaster 
medallions, with the profiles of the principal young 
poets of France, he had laid in order side by side upon 
tables. On this occasion, he spoke once more of the 
extraordinary talent of David, which was as great in 
conception as in execution. He also showed me a 
number of the newest works, which had been pre- 
sented to him, through the medium of David, as gifts 
from the most distinguished talents of the romantic 
school. I saw works by St. Beuve, Ballanche, Victor 
Hugo, Balzac, Alfred de Vigny, Jules Janin, and 
others. 

‘* David,” said he, “ has prepared happy days for 
me, by this present. The young poets have already 
occupied me the whole week, and afford me new life 
by the fresh impressions which I receive from them. I 


250 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [1830. 


shall make a separate catalogue of these much esteemed 
portraits and books, and shall give them both a special 
place in my collection of works of art and my library.” 

One could see from Goethe’s manner that this 
homage from the young poets of France afforded him 
the heartiest delight. 

He then read something from the “ Studies,” by 
Emile Deschamps. He praised the translation of the 
** Bride of Corinth,” as faithful, and very successful. 

‘¢ T possess,”’ said he, ‘¢ the manuscript of an Italian 
translation of this poem, which gives the original, 
even to the rhymes.” 

“ The Bride of Corinth” induced Goethe to speak 
of the rest of his ballads. ‘* I owe them, in a great 
measure, to Schiller,” said he, ‘* who impelled me to 
them, because he always wanted something new for 
his ¢ Horen.’ I had already carried them in my head 
for many years; they occupied my mind as pleasant 
images, as beautiful dreams, which came and went, 
and by playing with which my fancy made me happy. 
I unwillingly resolved to bid farewell to these brilliant 
visions, which had so long been my solace, by embody- 
ing them in poor, inadequate words. When I saw 
them-on paper, I regarded them with a mixture of sad- 
ness. I felt as if I were about to be separated for ever 
from a beloved friend. 

“ At other times,”’ continued Goethe, “ it has been 
totally different with my poems. They have been 
_ preceded by no impressions or forebodings, but have 
come suddenly upon me, and have insisted on being 
composed immediately, so that I have felt an instinc- 
tive and dreamy impulse to write them down on the 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 251 


spot. In such a somnambulistic condition, it has 
often happened that have had a sheet of paper lying 
before me all on one side, and I have not discovered it 
till all has been written, or I have found no room to 
write any more, I have possessed many such sheets 
written crossways, but they have been lost one after 
another, and I regret that I can no longer show any 
proofs of such poetic abstraction.” 

The conversation then returned to the French litera- 
ture, and the modern ultra-romantic tendency of some 
not unimportant talents. Goethe was of opinion that 
this poetic revolution, which was still in its infancy, 
would be very favourable to literature, but very preju- 
dicial to the individual authors who effect it. 

“* Extremes are never to be avoided in any revolu- 
tion,” said he. ‘In a political one, nothing is gene- 
rally desired in the beginning but the abolition of 
abuses ; but before people are aware, they are deep in 
bloodshed and horrors. Thus the French, in their 
present literary revolution, desired nothing at first but 
a freer form; however, they will not stop there, but 
will reject the traditional contents together with the 
form. They begin to declare the representation of 
noble sentiments and deeds as tedious, and attempt to 
treat of all sorts of abominations. Instead of the beau- 
tiful subjects from Grecian mythology, there are devils, 
witches, and vampyres, and the lofty heroes of anti- 
quity must give place to jugglers and galley slaves. 
This is piquant! This is effective! But after the 
public has once tasted this highly seasoned food, and 
has become accustomed to it, it will always long for 
more, and that stronger. A young man of talent, 


2$a° CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


who would produce an effect and be acknowledged, 
and who is great enough to go his own way, must 
accommodate himself to the taste of the day—nay, 
must seek to outdo his predecessors in the horrible and 
frightful. But in this chase after outward means of 
effect, all profound study, and all gradual and thorough 
development of the talent and the man from within, is 
entirely neglected. And this is the greatest injury 
which can befall a talent, although literature in general 
will gain by this tendency of the moment. 

“ But,” added I, “how can an attempt which 
destroys individual talents be favourable to literature in 
general ?” 

“The extremes and excrescences which I have 
described,” returned Goethe, ‘ will gradually disap- 
pear; but at last this great advantage will remain— 
besides a freer form, richer and more diversified sub- 
jects will have been attained, and no object of the 
broadest world and the most manifold life will be any 
longer excluded as unpoetical. I compare the present 
literary epoch to a state of violent fever, which is not 
in itself good and desirable, but of which improved 
health is the happy consequence. “That abomination 
which now often constitutes the whole subject of a 
poetical work, will in future only appear as an useful 
expedient; ay, the pure and the noble, which is now 
abandoned for the moment, will soon be resought with 
additional ardour.” 

“Tt is surprising to me,” remarked I, ‘ that even 
Merimée, who is one of your favourites, has entered 
upon this ultra-romantic path, through the horrible 
subjects of his ¢ Guzla.’ 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 253 


“ Merimée,” returned Goethe, ‘‘ has treated these 
things very differently from his fellow-authors. ‘These 
poems certainly are not deficient in various horrible mo- 
tives, such as churchyards, nightly crossways, ghosts 
and vampyres ; but the repulsive themes do not touch 
the intrinsic merit of the poet. On the contrary, he 
treats them from a certain objective distance, and, as it 
were, with irony. He goes to work with them like 
an artist, to whom it is an amusement to try anything of 
the sort. He has, as I have said before, quite renounced 
himself, nay, he has even renounced the Frenchman, 
and that to such a degree, that at first these poems 
of Guzla were deemed real Illyrian popular poems, 
and thus little was wanting for the success of the 
imposition he had intended. 

“© Merimée,” continued Goethe, ‘is indeed a 
thorough fellow! Indeed, generally, more power and 
genius are required for the objective treatment of a 
subject than is supposed. ‘Thus, too, Lord Byron, 
notwithstanding his predominant personality, has some- 
times had the power of renouncing himself altogether, 
as may be seen in some of his dramatic pieces, particu- 
larly in his ‘ Marino Faliero.’ In this piece one quite 
forgets that Lord Byron, or even an Englishman, 
wrote it. We live entirely in Venice, and entirely in 
the time in which the action takes place. The per- 
sonages speak quite from themselves, and from their 
own condition, without having any of the subjective 
feelings, thoughts, and opinions of the poet. That is 
as it should be. Of our young French romantic 
writers of the exaggerating sort, one cannot say as 
much, What I have read of them—poems, novels, 


254 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


dramatic works—have all borne the personal colouring 
of the author, and none of them ever make me forget 
that a Parisian—that a Frenchman—wrote them. 
Even in the treatment of foreign subjects one still 
remains in France and Paris, quite absorbed in all the 
wishes, necessities, conflicts, and fermentations of the 
present day.” 

“ Béranger also,” I threw in experimentally, ‘ has 
only expressed the situation of the great metropolis, and 
his own interior.” 

“That is a man,” said Goethe, ‘* whose power of 
representation and whose interior are worth some- 
thing. In him is all the substance of an important 
personality. Béranger is a nature most happily en- 
dowed, firmly grounded in himself, purely developed 
from himself, and quite in harmony with himself. He 
has never asked—what would suit the times ? what pro- 
duces an effect? what pleases? what are others doing? 
—in order that he might do the like. He has always 
worked only from the core of his own nature, without 
troubling himself as to what the public, or what this 
or that party expects. He has certainly, at different 
critical epochs, been influenced by the mood, wishes, 
and necessities of the people; but that has only con- 
firmed him in himself, by proving to him that his own 
nature is in harmony with that of the people; and 
has never seduced him into expressing anything but 
what already lay in his heart.” 

“You know that I am, upon the whole, no friend 
to what is called political poems, but such as Béranger 
has composed I can tolerate. With him there is 
nothing snatched out of the air, nothing of merely 


1830. } CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 255 


imagined or imaginary interest ; he never shoots at ran- 
dom; but, on the contrary, has always the most 
decided, the most important subjects. His affectionate 
admiration of Napoleon, and his reminiscences of the 
great warlike deeds which were performed under him, 
and that at a time when these recollections were a 
consolation to the somewhat oppressed French; then 
his hatred of the domination of priests, and of the 
darkness which threatened to return with the Jesuits : 
these are things to which one cannot refuse hearty 
sympathy. And how masterly is his treatment on 
all occasions! How he turns about and rounds off 
every subject in his own mind before he expresses it ! 
And then, when all is matured, what wit, spirit, 
irony, and persiflage, and what heartiness, naiveté, and 
grace, are unfolded at every step! His songs have 
every year made millions of joyous men; they always 
flow glibly from the tongue, even with the working- 
classes, whilst they are so far elevated above the level 
of the commonplace, that the populace, in converse 
with these pleasant spirits, becomes accustomed and 
compelled to think itself better and nobler, What 
more would you have? and, altogether, what higher 
praise could be given to a poet ?” 

“He is excellent, unquestionably!” returned I. 
“ ‘You know how I have loved him for years, and can 
imagine how it gratifies me to hear you speak of him 
thus. But if I must say which of his songs I prefer, 
his amatory poems please me more than his political, 
in which the particular references and allusions are not 
always clear to me.” 

That happens to be your case,” returned Goethe ; 


19? 
- 


256 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


“the political poems were not written for you: but 
ask the French, and they will tell you what is good 
in them. Besides, a political poem, under the most 
fortunate circumstances, is to be looked upon only as 
the organ of a single nation, and in most cases only as 
the organ of a single party; but it is seized with 
enthusiasm by this nation and this party when it is 
good. Again, a political poem should always be looked 
upon as the mere result of a certain state of the times ; 
which passes by, and with respect to succeeding times 
takes from the poem the value which it derived from 
the subject. As for Béranger, his was no hard task. 
Paris is France. All the important interests of his 
great country are concentrated in the capital, and there 
have their proper life and their proper echo. Besides, 
in most of his political songs he is by no means to be 
regarded as the mere organ of a single party ; on the 
contrary, the things against which he writes are for the 
most part of so universal and national an interest, 
that the poet is almost always heard as a great voice of 
the people. With us, in Germany, such a thing is 
not possible. We have no city, nay we have no 
country, of which we could decidedly say—here is 
Germany! If we inquire in Vienna, the answer is— 
this is Austria! and if in Berlin, the answer is—this is 
Prussia! Only sixteen years ago, when we tried to 
get rid of the French, was Germany everywhere. 
Then a political poet could have had an universal 
effect ; but there was no need of one! The universal 
necessity, and the universal. feeling of disgrace, had 
seized upon the nation like something demonic ; the 
inspiring fire which the poet might have kindled was 


ag tte keen ae » aid Ie man re i a v > « ete 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. — 257 


already burning everywhere of its own accord. Still, 
I will not deny that Arndt, Korner, and Riickert, 
have had some effect.” 

“ You have been reproached,” remarked I, rather 
inconsiderately, ‘‘ for not taking up arms at that 
great period, or at least co-operating as a poet.” 

“Let us leave that point alone, my good friend,” 
returned Goethe. “ It is an absurd world, which does 
not know what it wants, and which one must allow to 
have its own way. How could I take up arms with- 
out hatred, and how could I hate without youth? If 
such an emergency had befallen me when twenty years 
old, I should certainly not have been the last ; but it 
found me as one who had already passed the first sixties. 

‘¢ Besides, we cannot all serve our country in the 
same way, but each does his best, according as God 
has endowed him. I have toiled hard enough during 
half a century. I can say, that in those things which 
nature has appointed for my daily work, I have per- 
mitted myself no repose or relaxation night or day, but 
have always striven, investigated, and done as much, 
and that as well, as I could. If every one can say the 
same of himself, it will prove well with all.” 

“ The fact is,”’ said I, by way of conciliation, ‘ that 
you should not be vexed at that reproach, but should 
rather feel flattered at it. For what does it show, but 
that the opinion of the world concerning you is so 
great, that it desires that he who has done more for the 
culture of his nation than any other, should at last do 
everything !” 

“ ] will not say what I think,” returned Goethe. 
“© There is more ill-will towards me, hidden beneath 

VOL. II. 8 


258 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


that remark than you are aware of. I feel therein a 
new form of the old hatred with which people have 
persecuted me, and endeavoured quietly to wound me 
for years. I know very well that I am an eyesore to 
many ; that they would all willingly get rid of me ; and 
that, since they cannot touch my talent, they aim at my 
character. Now, it is said, I am proud; now, egotisti- 
cal; now, full of envy towards young talents; now, 
immersed in sensuality; now, without christianity ; 
and now, without love for my native country, and 
my own dear Germans. You have now known me 
sufficiently for years, and you feel what all that talk is 
worth. But if you would learn what I have suffered, 
read my ‘ Xenien,’ and it will be clear to you, from 
my retorts, how people have from time to time sought 
to embitter my life. 

‘* A German author is a German martyr! Yes, my 
friend, you will not find it otherwise! And I myself 
can scarcely complain ; none of the others have fared 
better—most have fared worse ; and in England and 
France it is quite the same as with us. What did 
not Moliére suffer? What Rousseau and Voltaire? 
Byron was driven from England by evil tongues ; and 
would have fled to the end of the world, if an early 
death had not delivered him from the Philistines and 
their hatred. 

“* And if it were only the narrow-minded masses 
that persecuted noble men! But no! one gifted 
man and one talent persecutes another ; Platen scan- 
dalizes Heine, and Heine Platen, and each seeks to 
make the other hateful; while the world is wide 
enough for all to live and to let live; and every one has 





1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 259 


an enemy in his own talent, who gives him quite 
enough to do. 

“ To write military songs, and sit ina room! That 
forsooth was my duty! To have written them in the 
bivouac, when the horses at the enemy’s outposts are 
heard neighing at night, would have been well enough ; 
however, that was not my life and not my business, but 
that of Theodore Kérner. His war-songs suit him 
perfectly. But to me, who am not of a warlike nature, 
and who have no warlike sense, war-songs would have 
been a mask which would have fitted my face very badly. 

“¢ | have never affected anything in my poetry. I 
have never uttered anything which I have not ex- 
perienced, and which has not urged me to production. 
I have only composed love-songs when I have loved. 
How could I write songs of hatred without hating ! 
And, between ourselves, I did not hate the French, 
although I thanked God that we were free from them. 
How could I, to whom culture.and barbarism are alone 
of importance, hate a nation which is among the most 
cultivated of the earth, and to which I owe so great a 
part of my own cultivation ? 

“¢ Altogether,” continued Goethe, ‘ national hatred 
is something peculiar. You will always find it 
strongest and most violent where there is the lowest 
degree of culture. But there is a degree where it 
vanishes altogether, and where one stands to a certain 
extent above nations, and feels the weal or woe of a 
neighbouring people, as if it had happened to one’s own. 
This degree of culture was conformable to my nature, 
and I had become strengthened in it long before I had 
reached my sixtieth year.” 

S$ 2 


260 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


(Sup.) Monday, March 15, 1830. 


This evening, passed a short hour at Goethe’s. He 
spoke a great deal of Jena, and of the arrangements 
and improvements which he had made in the different 
branches of the University. For chemistry, botany, 
and mineralogy, which had formerly been treated only 
so far as they belonged to pharmacy, he had introduced 
especial chairs. Above all, he had done much good 
for the museum of natural history and the library. On 
this occasion he again related to me, with much self- 
satisfaction and good humour, the history of his violent 
occupation of a room adjoining the library, of which 
the medical faculty had taken possession, and which 
they would not give up. 

“¢ The library,” said he, ‘* was in very bad con- 
dition. ‘The situation was damp and close, and by no 
means fit to contain its treasures in a proper manner ; 
particularly as by the purchase of the Biittner library, 
on the part of the Grand-Duke, an addition had been 
made of 13,000 volumes, which lay in large heaps 
upon the floor, because, as I have said, there was no 
room to place them properly. I was really in some 
distress on that account. An addition should have 
been made to the building, but for this the means 
were wanting ; and, besides, this addition could easily 
be avoided, since adjoining the library there was a large 
room which was standing empty, and which was quite 
calculated to supply all our necessities most admirably. 
However, this room was not in possession of the 
library, but was used by the medical faculty, who some- 
times employed it for their conferences. I therefore 





1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 261 


applied to these gentlemen, with this very civil request, 
—that they would give up this room to me for the 
library. To this the gentlemen would not agree. 
They were willing, they said, to give it up if I would 
have a new room built for their conferences, and that 
immediately. I replied that I should be very ready to 
have another place prepared for them, but that I could 
not promise them a new building immediately. This 
answer did not appear to have satisfied the gentlemen ; 
for when I sent the next morning for the key, I was 
told that it could not be found ! 

“¢ There now remained no other course but to enter 
as aconqueror. I therefore sent for a bricklayer, and 
took him into the library, before the wall of the said 
adjoining room. ‘ This wall, my friend,’ said I, ‘ must 
be very thick, for it separates two different parts of the 
dwelling : just try how strong it is.’ The bricklayer 
went to work, and scarcely had he given five or six 
hearty blows, when bricks and mortar fell in, and 
one could see, through the opening, some venerable 
perukes, with which the room had been decorated. 
¢ Go on, my friend,’ said I; ¢ I cannot yet see clearly 
enough. Do not restrain yourself, but act just as if 
you were in your own house.’ This friendly encour- 
agement so animated the bricklayer, that the opening 
was soon large enough to serve perfectly for a door ; 
when my library attendants rushed into the room each 
with an armful of books, which they threw upon the 
ground as a sign of possession. 

“¢ Benches, chairs, and desks vanished in a moment ; 
and my assistants were so quick and active, that ina 
few days all the books were arranged in the most 


262 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


beautiful order along the walls of their repository. 
The doctors, who soon afterwards entered their room, 
in corpore, through their usual door, were quite con- 
founded to find so great and unexpected a change. 
They did not know what to say, and retired in silence ; 
but they all harboured a secret grudge against me. 
Still, when I see them singly, and particularly when I 
have any one of them to dine with me, they are quite 
charming, and my very dear friends. When I related 
to the Grand-Duke the course of this adventure, which 
was certainly achieved with his consent and perfect 
approbation, it amused him right royally, and we have 
very often laughed at it since.” 

Goethe was in a very good humour, and happy in 
these reminiscences. 

“ Yes, my friend,” continued he, ‘“ we had our 
share of trouble in doing good. Afterwards, when, on 
account of the great dampness in the library, I wished 
to take down and remove the whole of the old city- 
wall, which was quite useless, I found no better 
success. My entreaties, good reasons, and rational 
representations, found no hearing, and I was obliged, at 
last, here also to go to work as a conqueror. When the 
city authorities saw my workmen at work upon their 
old wall, they sent a deputation to the Grand-Duke, 
who was then at Domburg, with the humble request 
that his highness would be pleased, by a word of 
command, to check my violent destruction of their 
venerable old city-wall.. But the Grand-Duke, who 
had secretly authorized me to take this step, answered 
very wisely,—‘ I do not. intermeddle with Goethe’s 
affairs. He knows what he has to do, and must act 





'1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 263 


as he thinks right. Go to him, and speak to him 
yourself, if you have the courage !’ : 

“ However, no one made his appearance at my 
house,” continued Goethe laughing; “1 went on 
pulling down as much of the old wall as was in my 
way, and had the happiness of seeing my library dry at 
last.” 

Tuesday, March 16, 1830. 

This morning Herr von Goethe paid me a visit, and 
informed me that his long contemplated tour to Italy 
had been decided on; that his father had allowed the 
necessary money ; and that he wished me to accom- 
pany him. We were both highly pleased, and talked a 
great deal about our preparations. 

When I passed Goethe’s house at noon, Goethe 
beckoned me at the window, and I hastened up to him. 
He was in the front apartments, and seemed very fresh 
and cheerful. He began to talk about his son’s tour, 
saying that he approved of it, thought it very rational, 
and was glad that I would accompany him. 

“It will be a good thing for you both,” said he, 
“and your cultivation in particular will receive no 
small advantage.” 

He. then showed me a Christ with twelve Apostles, 
and we talked of the poverty of these forms as subjects 
for sculpture. 

‘One Apostle,” said Goethe, “ is always much 
like another, and very few have enough life and action 
connected with them to give them character and 
significance. I have on this occasion amused myself 
with making a cycle of twelve biblical figures, in 
which every one is significant and distinct from the 


264 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


rest, and therefore every one is a grateful subject for 
the artist. 

“ First comes Adam—the most beautiful of men, 
as perfect as can be imagined. He may have his hand 
upon a spade, as a symbol that man is called to till the 
earth. 

*¢ Next Noah, with whom a new creation begins. 
He cultivates the vine, and therefore this figure may 
have something of the character of the Indian Bacchus. 

“¢ Next Moses, as the first lawgiver. 

“ Then David, as warrior and king. 

“¢ Next to him, Isaiah as prince and prophet. 

“ Then Daniel, who points to the future Christ. 

‘¢ Christ. : 

“ Next to him John, who loves the present Christ. 
Thus Christ would be placed between two youthful 
figures, one of whom, viz. Daniel, should be painted 
with a mild expression and long hair, while the other 
should be impassioned and with short curly hair. But 
who shall come after John? 

“ ‘The Captain of Capernaum, as a representation of 
the faithful, who expect immediate aid. 

“¢ Then the Magdalen, as a symbol of penitent man 
urging forgiveness and eager for reformation. In 
these two figures the idea of Christianity would be 
contained. 

“ Then Paul may follow, who most vigorously 
propagated the new doctrine. 

“ After him James, who went to the remotest 
nations, and represents missionaries. 

“¢ Peter would conclude the whole. The artist 
should place him near the door, and give him an 





1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 265 


expression as if he examined those who entered, in 
order to see whether they were worthy to tread the 
sanctuary. 

“© What do you say to this cycle? I think it would 
be richer than that of the twelve Apostles, where all 
look like each other. Moses and the Magdalen I would 
represent sitting.” 

I was very pleased to hear all this, and requested 
Goethe to write it down, which he promised to do. 
‘¢ T will think it over again,” he said, ‘‘ and then give 
it with other new things for the thirty-ninth volume.” 


Wednesday, March 17, 1830. 

Dined with Goethe. I asked him respecting a 
passage in his poems, whether it should be read,— 
“ As thy priest Horace in his rapture promised,” as 
it stands in all the older editions,—or, ‘* As thy priest 
Propertius,” &c., as it stands in the new edition. 

‘* T allowed myself,” said Goethe, ‘‘ to be seduced 
by Gottling into this last reading. ‘ Priest Propertius’ 
sounds badly, and therefore I am for the earlier read- 
ing.” 

“ Thus, too,” said I, ‘¢ it stood in the manuscript of 
your ‘ Helena,’ that Theseus carries her off as a slim 
roe of zen years. In consequence of Gottling’s sug- 
gestions, you have printed—‘ a slim roe of seven years,’ 
which is too young both for the beautiful girl herself, 
and for the twin-brothers Castor and Pollux, who 
rescue her. ‘The whole story lies so completely in the 
fabulous ages, that no one can tell how old she really 
was ; and, besides, mythology altogether is so pliant, 
that we may use things just as we find most convenient.” 


we 


266 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


«You are right,” said Goethe; “I also am in 
favour of her being ten years old when Theseus carries 
her off, and hence I have written afterwards;—* From 
her #enth year she has been good for nought.’ In the 
future edition you may again make the roe of seven 
years into one of ten.” 

After dinner Goethe showed me two new numbers 
by Neureuther, after his ballads, and we admired above 
everything the free cheerful mind of this amiable 
artist. 

(Sup.*) Wednesday, March 17, 1830. 

This evening at Goethe’s for a couple of hours. By 
order of the Grand-Duchess I brought him back 
‘*¢ Gemma von Art,” and told him the good opinion I 
entertained of this piece. 

‘* I am always glad,” returned he, ‘¢ when anything 
is produced which is new in invention, and bears the 
stamp of talent.” Then, taking the volume between 
his hands, and looking at it somewhat askance, he 
added, ‘* but I am never quite pleased when I see a 
dramatic author make pieces too long to be represented 
as they are written. This imperfection takes away 
half the pleasure that I should otherwise feel. Only 
see what a thick volume this ‘Gemma von Art’ is.” 

“¢ Schiller,” returned I, ‘“ has not managed much 
better, and yet he is a very great dramatic author.” 

“ He too has certainly committed this fault,’ 
returned Goethe. ‘His first pieces particularly, 
which he wrote in the fulness of youth, seem as if 
they would never end. He had too much on his 
heart, and too much to say to be able to control it. 
Afterwards, when he became conscious of this fault, he 





1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 267 


took infinite trouble, and endeavoured to overcome it 
by work and study; but he never perfectly succeeded. 
It really requires a poetical giant, and is more difficult 
than is imagined, to control a subject properly, to 
keep it from overpowering one, and to concentrate 
one’s attention on that alone which is absolutely neces- 
sary.” ; 

Hofrath Riemer was announced, and entered. I 
prepared to depart, as I knew that this was the even- 
ing on which Goethe was accustomed to work with 
Riemer. But Goethe begged me to remain, which I 
did very willingly, and thus became a witness of a 
conversation full of recklessness, irony, and Mephis- 
tophilistic humour on Goethe’s part.* 

“So Sémmering is dead,” began Goethe, ‘ and 
scarcely seventy-five wretched years old. What 
blockheads men are, that they have not the courage to 
last longer than that! There I praise my friend 
Bentham, that extremely radical madman; he keeps 
himself well, and yet he is some weeks older than 
I am.” 

“ Tt might be added,” returned I, ‘ that he equals 
you in one other point, for he still works with all the 
activity of youth.” 

“« That may be,” returned Goethe ; ‘¢ but we are at 
opposite ends of the chain: he wishes to pull down, 
and I wish to support and build up. To be such a 
radical, at his age, is the height of all madness.” 

*¢ [ think,” rejoined I, ** we should distinguish be- 
tween two kinds of radicalism. The one to build up 


* Some passages which border on the profane are purposely omitted in 
this conversation.— Trans. 


268 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


for the future will first make a clean path by pulling 
down everything ; whilst the other is contented to point 
out the weak parts and the faults of an administration, 
in hopes of attaining good without the aid of violent 
measures. If you had been born in England, you 
would not certainly have avoided belonging to this last 
class.” 

*¢ What do you take me for?” returned Goethe, 
who now adopted the mien and tone of his Mephis- 
tophiles. ‘I forsooth should have searched out abuses, 
and detected and published them into the bargain? I 
who in England should have lived upon abuses? If 
I had been born in England, I should have been a rich 
Duke, or rather a Bishop with 30,000/. a year.” 

“ Very good,” returned I; ‘* but if, by chance, 
you had not drawn the great prize, but a blank? there 
are so many blanks.” 

“Tt is not every one, my dear friend,” returned 
Goethe, ‘ who is made for the great prize. Do you 
believe that I should have committed the folly of light- 
ing on a blank? I should, above all things, have 
taken the part of the Thirty-Nine Articles; I should 
have advocated them on all sides, and in all directions 
—particularly the Ninth Article, which would have 
been for me an object of special attention and tender 
devotion. I would have played the hypocrite, and 
lied so well and so long, both in rhyme and prose, that 
my 30,000/. a year should not have escaped me. And 
then, having once attained this eminence, I would have 
neglected nothing to keep my position. Above all, I 
would have done everything to make the night of 
ignorance if possible still darker. Oh, how would I 





1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 269 


have tried to cajole the good, silly multitude; and 
how would I have humbled the schoolboys, so that no 
one should have observed, or even have had the 
courage to remark that my brilliant position was based 
upon the most scandalous abuses.” 

“ With you,” answered I, ‘ people would at least 
have had the consolation of thinking that you had 
attained such eminence by means of eminent talent. 
But in England, the most stupid and incapable people 
are often those who are in enjoyment of the highest 
worldly prosperity, for which they have to thank not 
their own deserts, but patronage, chance—and, above 
all, birth.” 

“© It is the same in the end,” returned Goethe, 
whether one attains brilliant worldly prosperity through 
one’s own exertions, or through inheritance. The first 
possessors were still, in every case, people of genius, 
who turned to their own account the ignorance and 
weakness of others. The world is so full of simple- 
tons and madmen, that one need not seek them in a 
madhouse. This reminds me that the late Grand- 
Duke, who knew my objection to madhouses, once 
endeavoured to take me into one by a sudden stratagem. 
However, I smelt the rat in time, and told him that 
I felt no necessity to see the madmen who were in 
confinement, as I had already seen enough of those 
who went about at liberty. ‘ I am very ready,’ said I, 
‘to follow your Highness anywhere, with the sole 
exception of a madhouse.’ * * * 

“¢ By the way, I have already made a trial in the 
religious style. As a boy of sixteen, I wrote a 
dithyrambic poem upon the Descent into hell, which 


270 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830 


has been printed but not acknowledged, and which has 
but lately fallen into my hands again. You know it, 
Riemer ?” 

“No, your excellency,” returned Riemer, “ I do 
not know it. But I recollect that, in the first year 
after my arrival, you were seriously ill, and that in a 
state of delirium you recited the most beautiful verses 
on that subject. “These were, doubtless, recollections 
of that poem of your early youth.” 

“¢ That is very probable,” said Goethe. ‘ I knew 
a case in which an old man of low condition, who lay 
at the last gasp, quite unexpectedly recited the most 
beautiful Greek sentences. People were perfectly 
convinced that the man did not understand a word of 
Greek, and there was no end to their astonishment ; 
the cunning had already begun to derive advantage 
from the credulity of the fools, when it was unfor- 
tunately discovered that the old man in his early youth 
had been obliged to learn all sorts of Greek sentences 
by heart, in the presence of a boy of high family, 
whom his example, it was hoped, would incite. He 
had learned truly classical Greek quite mechanically, 
without understanding it, and had not thought of it 
again for fifty years, until, in his last illness, this lum- 
ber of words with which he was crammed began to 
revive.” 

* * # * * 

Conversation now turned upon romances and plays, 
and their moralizing or demoralizing effect upon the 
public. 

“¢ Tt must be bad indeed,” said Goethe, ‘‘ if a book 
has a more demoralizing effect than life itself, which 


ee 





1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 271 


daily displays the most scandalous scenes in abundance, 
if not before our eyes, at least before our ears. Even 
with children, people need by no means be so anxious 
about the effect of a book or a play. Daily life is, as I 
said before, more instructive than the most effective 
book.” 

“ But still,”” remarked I, ‘* with respect to children 
people take care not to utter things in their presence 
which are considered improper for them to hear.” 

“That is laudable enough,” said Goethe, “ and I 
do the same myself, but I consider the precaution 
quite useless. Children, like dogs, have so sharp and 
fine a scent, that they detect and hunt out everything— 
the bad before all the rest. They also know well 
enough how this or that friend stands with their 
parents ; and as they practise no dissimulation what- 
ever, they serve as excellent barometers by which to 
observe the degree of favour or disfavour at which we 
stand with their parents. 

Some one had once spoken ill of me in company ; 
and, indeed, the circumstance appeared to me of such 
. importance, that I wished much to discover whence 
the blow came. People here were generally well 
disposed towards me. I turned my thoughts in every 
direction, and could not make out with whom the 
odious report had originated. All of a sudden a light 
dawned upon me. _ I one day met, in the street, some 
little boys of my acquaintance, who did not greet me 
as they had been accustomed. ‘This was enough for 
me, and upon this track I very soon discovered that 
it was their beloved parents who had set their tongues 
wagging, at my cost, in so shameful a manner.” 


272 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


Sunday, March 21, 1830. 

Dined with Goethe. He spoke first about: his 
son’s journey, saying, that we ought not to form too 
great expectations as to the result. 

“ People usually come back as they have gone 
away,” said he; “ indeed, we must take care not to 
return with thoughts which do not fit us for after 
life. Thus, I brought from Italy the idea of fine 
staircases, and have consequently spoiled my house, 
making the rooms all smaller than they should have 
been. ‘The most important thing is to learn to rule 
oneself. If I allowed myself to go on unchecked, I 
could easily ruin myself and all about me.” 

We talked then about ill health, and the reciprocity 
of body and mind. 

“¢ It is incredible,” said Goethe, ‘* how much the 
mind can do to sustain the body. I suffer often from a 
disordered state of the bowels, but my will, and the 
strength of the upper part of my body, keep me up. 
The mind must not yield to the body. ‘Thus I work 
more easily when the barometer is high than when it is , 
low : since I know this, I endeavour, when the baro- 
meter is low, to counteract the injurious effect by great 
exertion,——and my attempt is successful.” 

*¢ But there are things in poetry which cannot be 
forced ; and we must wait for favourable hours to give 
us what we cannot obtain by mental determination. 
Thus I now take my time with my Walpurgis-night, 
that there may be throughout the proper strength and 
grace. I have advanced a good way, and hope to have 
finished it before your departure. 


1830.] | CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 273 


“¢ Wherever there is a point, I have detached it from 
the individual objects, and given it a general application, 
so that the reader has no want of allusions, but cannot 
tell how they are really directed. I have, however, en- 
deavoured to mark out everything in distinct outline, in 
the antique style, so that there may be nothing vague 
or undecided, which might suit the romantic style well 
enough. 

“The idea of the distinction between classical and 
romantic poetry, which is now spread over the whole 
world, and occasions so many quarrels and divisions, 
came originally from Schiller and myself. I laid down 
the maxim of objective treatment in poetry, and would 
allow no other; but Schiller, who worked quite in the 
subjective way, deemed his own fashion the right one, 
and to defend himself against me, wrote the treatise 
upon ‘ Naive and Sentimental Poetry.” He proved to 
me that I myself, against my will, was romantic, and 
that my ‘ Iphigenia,’ through the predominance of sen- 
timent, was by no means so classical and so much in 
the antique spirit as some people supposed. 

“The Schlegels took up this idea, and carried it 
further, so that it has now been diffused over the 
whole world ; and every one talks about classicism and 
romanticism—of which nobody thought fifty years ago.” 

I turned the conversation again upon the cycle of 
the twelve figures, and Goethe made some explanatory 
remarks. 

‘* Adam must be represented as I have said, but not 
quite naked, as I best conceive him after the Fall; he 
should be clothed with a thin deer-skin; and, at the 
same time, in order to express that he is the father of. 

VOL, II. T 


274 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


the human race, it would be well to place by him his 
eldest son, a fearless boy, looking boldly about him—a 
little Hercules stifling a snake in his hand. 

“ And I have had another thought about Noah, 
which pleases me better than the first. I would not 
have him like an Indian Bacchus; but I would repre- 
sent him as a vintager; this would give the notion of a 
sort of redeemer, who, as the first fosterer of the vine, 
made man free from the torment of care and afflic- 
tion.” 

I was charmed with the happy thought, and resolved 
to noté it down. 

Goethe then showed me the engraving of Neureu- 
ther, for his legend of the horse-shoe. 

“ The artist,” said I, ‘ has given the Saviour only 
eight disciples,” 

“¢ And even these eight,”’ replied Goethe, ‘‘ are too 
many ; and he has very wisely endeavoured to divide 
them into two groups, and thus to avoid the monotony 
of an unmeaning procession.” 

Wednesday, March 24, 1830. 

The liveliest conversation at table to-day with 
Goethe. He told me about a French poem which 
had come in manuscript, in the collection of David, 
under the title “* Le Rire de Mirabeau.” 

“ The poem is full of spirit and boldness,” said 
Goethe, ‘‘ and you must see it. It seemsas if Mephis- 
tophiles had prepared the ink for the poet. It is great 
if he wrote it without having read ‘ Faust,’ and no less 
great if he had read it.” 

(Sup.) Monday, March 29, 1830. 


This evening for some moments at Goethe’s; he 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 275 


appeared very calm and cheerful, and in the mildest 
mood. I found him surrounded by his grandson Wolf 
and the Countess Caroline Egloffstein, his intimate 
friend. Wolf gave his dear grandfather a great deal of 
trouble. He climbed about him, and sat now upon 
one shoulder, and now upon another. Goethe bore all 
with the utmost gentleness, inconvenient as the weight 
of this boy of ten years old must have been to him at 
his advanced age. 

“ But, dear Wolf,” said the Countess, ‘¢ do not tor- 
ment your good grandfather so terribly! He must be 
quite tired with your weight.” 

“That does not matter,”’ said Wolf, ‘* we shall soon 
go to bed, and then my grandfather will have time 
enough to recover from his fatigue.” 

“ You see,” rejoined Goethe, “ that love is always 
somewhat of an impertinent nature.” 

The conversation turned upon Campe, and _ his 
writings for children. 

“<I have only met with Campe twice in my life,” said 
Goethe. ‘ After an interval of forty years, I last saw 
him at Carlsbad. I then found him very old, withered, 
stiff, and formal. He had, during a long life, written 
only for children, not even for great children of twenty 
years. He could not endure me. I was an eyesore, 
a stumbling-block, and he did all he could to avoid me. 
Chance, however, one day brought me to him quite 
unexpectedly, and he could not help saying some words 
tome. ‘I have,’ said he, ‘ great respect for the capa- 
bilities of your mind! You have attained extraordinary 
eminence in various departments. But things of that 
sort do not affect me, and I cannot set the value upon 

T 4 


276 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


them which others do.’ This rather uncivil candour 
by no means offended me, and I said all sorts of 
obliging things in return. Besides, I really have a high 
opinion of Campe. He has conferred incredible bene- 
fits upon children ; he is their delight, and, so to speak, 
their gospel. I should like to see him a little corrected, 
merely on account of two or three terrible stories 
which he has had the indiscretion not only to write, 
but also to introduce into his collection for children. 
Why should we burden the cheerful, fresh, innocent 
fancy of children with such horrid impressions ? 


(Sup.) Monday, April 5, 1830. 

It is well known that Goethe is no friend to spec- 
tacles. 

“Jt may be a mere whim of mine,” said he, on 
various occasions, “ but I cannot overcome it. When- 
ever a stranger steps up to me with spectacles on his 
nose, a discordant feeling comes over me, which I can- 
not master. It annoys me so much, that on the very 
threshold it takes away a great part of my benevolence, 
and so spoils my thoughts, that an unconstrained natural 
development of my own nature is altogether impossible. 
It always makes on me the impression of the desob- 
iigeant, as if a stranger would say something rude to 
me at the first greeting. I feel this still stronger, since 
it has been impressed upon me for years how obnoxious 
spectacles are. If a stranger. now comes with specta- 
cles, I think immediately—‘ he has not read my latest 
poems !’” and that is of itself a little to his disadvantage ; 
or ‘ he has read them, knows their peculiarity, and sets 
them at naught,’ and that is still worse. The only 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 297 


man with whom spectacles do not annoy me, is Zelter ; 
with all others they are horrible. It always seems to 
me as if I am to serve strangers as an object for strict 
examination, and qs if with their armed glances they 
would penetrate my most secret thoughts, and spy out 
every wrinkle of my old face. But whilst they thus 
endeavour to make my acquaintance, ‘they destroy all 
fair equality between us, as they prevent me from com- 
pensating myself by making theirs. For what do I gain 
from a man into whose eyes I cannot look when he 
is speaking, and the mirror of whose soul is veiled 
to me by a pair of glasses which dazzle me?” 

“ Some one has remarked,” added I, ‘‘ that wearing 
spectacles makes men conceited, because spectacles 
raise them to a degree of sensual perfection which is far 
above the power of their own nature, but through 
which the delusion at last creeps in, that this artificial 
eminence is the force of their own nature after all.” 

“The remark is very good,” returned Goethe, “it 
appears to have proceeded from a natural philosopher. 
However, when examined, it is not tenable. For if 
this were actually the case, all blind men would of 
necessity be very modest; and, on the other hand, all 
endowed with excellent eyes would be conceited. But 
this is not the case ; we rather find that all mentally 
and bodily endowed men are the most modest, while, 
on the other hand, all who have some peculiar mental 
defect think a great deal more of themselves. It 
appears that bountiful Nature has given to all those 
whom she has not enough endowed in higher respects, 
imagination and presumption by way of compensation 
and complement. 


278 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


‘< Besides, modesty and presumption are moral things 
of so spiritual a nature, that they have little to do 
with the body. With narrow-minded persons, and 
those in a state of mental darkness, we find conceit ; 
while with mental clearness and high endowments we 
never find it. In such cases there is generally a joyful 
feeling of strength ; but since this strength is actual, 
the feeling is anything else you please, only not con- 
ceit.” 

Westill conversed on various other subjects, and came 
at last to the “¢ Chaos”—the Weimar journal conducted 
by Frau von Goethe—in which not only the German 
gentlemen and ladies of the place take part, but also 
the young English, French, and other foreigners who 
reside here; so that almost every number presents 
a mixture of nearly all the best known European 
tongues. 

“Tt was a good thought of my daughter,” said Goethe, 
‘and she should be praised and thanked for having 
achieved this highly original journal, and kept the 
individual members of our society in such activity that 
it has now lasted for nearly a year. It is certainly 
only a dilettante pastime, and I know very well that 
nothing great and durable will proceed from it; but 
still it is very neat, and, to a certain extent, a mirror 
of the intellectual eminence of our present Weimar 
society. Then, which is the principal thing, it gives 
employment to our young gentlemen and ladies, who 
often do not know what to do with themselves ; 
through this, too, they have an intellectual centre 
which affords them subjects for discussion and conver- 
sation, and preserves them from mere empty hollow 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 279 


chat. I read every sheet just as it comes from the 
press, and can say that, on the whole, I have met 
with nothing stupid, but occasionally something very 
pretty. What, for instance, could you say against the 
elegy, by Frau von Bechtolsheim, upon the death of 
the Grand-Duchess Dowager? Is not the poem very 
pretty? The only thing that could be said against it, 
or, indeed, against most that is written by our young 
ladies and gentlemen is, that, like trees too full of sap, 
which have a number of parasitical shoots, they have 
a superabundance of thoughts and feelings which they 
cannot control, so that they often do not know how to 
restrain themselves, or to leave off in the right place. 
This is the case with Frau von Bechtolsheim. In 
order to preserve a rhyme, she had added another line, 
which was completely detrimental to the poem, and in 
some measure spoiled it. I saw this fault in the 
manuscript, and was able to strike it out in time. 

“© One must be an old practitioner,” he added, 
laughing, ‘¢ to understand striking out. Schiller was 
particularly great in that. I once saw him, on the 
occasion of his ‘ Musenalmanach,’ reduce a pompous 
poem of two-and-twenty strophes to seven; and no 
loss resulted from this terrible operation. On the 
contrary, those seven strophes contained all the good 
and effective thoughts of the two-and-twenty.” 


(Sup.*) Monday, April 19, 1830. 
Goethe gave me an account of a visit, which he had 
received to-day, from two Russians. ‘‘ They were, 
upon the whole, very agreeable people,” said he; 
“but one of them did not appear very amiable, 


280 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


inasmuch as he did not utter a single word during his 
whole visit. He entered with a silent bow, did not 
open his lips during his stay, and after half an hour 
took his leave with another silent salutation. He 
appeared to have come merely to see me and to observe 
me. He did not take his eyes off me, whilst I sat 
opposite. That annoyed me, and I therefore began to 
rattle away the maddest stuff, just as it came into my 
head. I believe I took the United States of North 
America as my theme, which I treated with the utmost 
levity, saying at random all I knew and all I did not 
know. However, this appeared to please my two 
foreigners, for they quitted me, as it seemed, not at all 
dissatisfied.” 
Wednesday, April 21, 1830. 

To-day I took my leave of Goethe, as I was to set 
out with his son for Italy to-morrow morning. We 
said a great deal in reference to the journey, and he 
especially recommended me to observe well, and now 
and then to write to him. 

I felt some emotion at leaving Goethe, but was 
consoled by his strong healthy appearance, and the 
confident hope that I should be happy enough to see 
him again. 

When I took my departure he gave me an album, 
in which he had written these words,— 


“TO THE TRAVELLERS. 
s¢ € Fs geht voriber eh’ ich’s gewahr werde,* 
Und verwandelt sich eh’ ich’s merke.” ”— Fob. 
“ Weimar, 21st April, 1830.” 





* “Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not; he passeth on also, but I 
perceive him not.”—0b.—Trans. - 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 281 


(Sup.*) ‘Thursday, April 22, 1830. 

Dined with Goethe. Frau von Goethe was present, 
and the conversation was agreeably animated. Still, 
little or nothing of it remains in my mind. 

During dinner, a foreigner, who was passing through 
this town, was announced, with the remark that he 
had no time to wait, and must set off the next morn- 
ing. Goethe sent word to him that he regretted that 
he could not see any one to-day, but that he would 
perhaps see him to-morrow at noon. “ I think,” said 
he, laughing, ‘ that will be enough.” But, at the 
same time, he promised his daughter that he would 
wait after dinner the visit of young Henning, whom 
she had introduced, out of consideration for his brown 
eyes, which were said to be like those of his mother. 


Frankfort, Sunday, April 24, 1830. 

At about eleven o’clock, I took a walk round the 
city, and through the gardens, towards the Taunus 
Mountain, and was delighted with the noble prospect 
and vegetation. The day before yesterday, at Weimar, 
the trees were only in the bud, but here I find the new 
shoots of the chestnuts already a foot long, and those 
of the linden trees a quarter of a yard. ‘The grass was 
a foot high, and thus at the gate I met some girls 
carrying heavy basket-loads. 

I went through the gardens to get a free prospect of 
the Taunus Mountain ; there was a fresh breeze, the 
clouds moved from the south-west, and cast their 
shadows upon the mountain as they proceeded to the 
north-east. Between the gardens I saw some storks 


282 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


alight and rise again, which, taking place in the sunlight 
between the passing white clouds and the blue sky, 
produced a pretty effect, and completed the character 
of the scene. When I returned, I met at the gate the 
finest cows, brown, white, speckled, and with sleek 
coats. 

The air here is pleasant and healthy, and the water has 
a sweetish taste. I have never tasted such good beef- 
steaks at Hamburg as here, and I have excellent white 
bread. 

It is fair time, and the bustle, fiddling and piping in 
the streets, lasts from morning till late at night. I was 
much struck by a Savoyard boy, who turned a hurdy- 
gurdy, and led behind him a dog, on which a monkey 
was riding. He whistled and sang to us, and for a 
long time tried to make us give him something. We 
threw him down more than he could have expected, 
and I thought he would throw up to us a look of gra- 
titude. However, he did nothing of the kind, but 
pocketed his money, and immediately looked after 
others to give him more. 


Frankfort, Sunday, April 25, 1830. 
This morning we took a ride about the city, in a 
very elegant carriage belonging to our host. The 
magnificent buildings, the beautiful stream, the gar- 
dens and grounds, and enticing summer-houses, were 
refreshing to the senses. However, I soon made the 
remark, that it is requisite for the mind to elicit 
thoughts from objects, and that without this every- 

thing, after all, will prove indifferent and unmeaning. 
At dinner, at the table @hote, 1 saw many faces, but 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 283 


few expressive enough to fix my attention. However, 
the head waiter interested me highly, so that my eyes 
constantly followed him and all his movements ; and 
indeed he was a remarkable being. The guests who 
sat at the long table were about two hundred in num- 
ber, and it seems almost incredible when I say that 
nearly the whole of the attendance was performed by 
the head waiter, since he put on and took off all the 
dishes, while the other waiters only handed them to 
him and received them from him. During all this 
proceeding nothing was spilt, no one was incommoded, 
but all went off lightly and nimbly, as if by the opera- 
tion of a spirit. Thus, thousands of plates and dishes 
flew from his hands upon the table, and again from the 
table to the hands of the attendants behind him. Quite 
absorbed in his vocation the whole man was nothing 
but eyes and hands, and he merely opened his closed 
lips for short answers and directions. ‘Then he not only 
attended to the table, but to the orders for wine and the 
like, and so well remembered everything, that when 
the meal was over he knew everybody’s score, and 
took the money. I admired the comprehensive power, 
the presence of mind, and the strong memory of this 
remarkable young man. At the same time he was 
perfectly quiet and self-possessed, and always ready for 
a jest and a smart retort, so that a constant smile 
played upon his lips. A French captain of the old 
guard complained to him, at the end of the meal, that 
the ladies retired, He at once gave the evasive answer: 
—“ Crest pour vous autres ; nous sommes sans passion.” 
He spoke French and English perfectly, and I was 
told that he was master of three languages besides. I 


284 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


afterwards entered into conversation with him, and 
found reason to admire his rare cultivation in every 
respect. 

At the performance of “* Don Juan” in the evening, 
we found reason to regret Weimar. The voices of 
the company were good, and their talents were fair, 
but they all played like children of nature who owed 
nothing to tuition. They did not enunciate clearly, 
and went on as if no public were present. ‘The acting 
of some of them gave occasion to the remark that the 
ignoble without character is vulgar and intolerable, 
while character at once elevates it into the higher 
region of art. The public was very loud and bois- 
terous, and there was no lack of calls and encores, 
Zerlina fared both well and ill, for one-half of the house 
hissed, while the other applauded. Party spirit was 
thus heightened, and always resulted in an uproar. 


(Sup.*) Wednesday, May 12, 1830. 

Before Goethe’s window stood a little bronze figure 
of Moses ; a copy of the renowned original, by Michael 
Angelo. ‘The arms appeared to me too long and too 
stout in proportion to the rest of the body, and I 
openly expressed this opinion to Goethe. 

“¢ But the two heavy tables with the Ten Command- 
ments,” exclaimed he, sharply, ‘‘ do you think it was a 
trifle to carry them? And do you believe that Moses, 
who had to command and to curb an army of Jews, 
could have been contented with mere ordinary arms ?” 

Goethe laughed as he said this, so that I could not 
find out whether I was really in error, or whether le 
was defending the artist by way of a joke. ' 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 285 


Milan, May 28, 1830. 

I have now been here for three weeks, and it is high 
time for me to write down something. 

The great Teatro de la Scala, to our regret, was 
closed. We went in and saw it filled with scaffolding. 
Various repairs are going on, and we are told that an 
addition is being made of a tier of boxes. ‘The prin- 
cipal singers have taken advantage of this opportunity 
to travel. Some they say are in Paris, some in Vienna. 

I visited the Marionette theatre (Puppet-show). This 
theatre is perhaps, of its kind, the best in the world. 
It has a high celebrity, and as soon as you approach 
Milan you hear of it, 

The Teatro de la Canobiana, with its five tiers of 
boxes, is the largest after La Scala, and holds three 
thousand persons. I like it very much. I have often 
been in it, and have always seen the same opera and 
the same ballet. For three weeks they have performed 
Rossini’s opera “Il Conte Ory,” and the ballet 
“< L? Orfana di Genevra.”” The scenes painted by San 
Quirico, or under his direction, have a most pleasing 
effect, and are modest enough to allow themselves to 
be outshone by the dresses of the actors. San Quirico, 
it is said, has many clever persons in his employ. Ail 
orders are sent to him in the first instance, and he sends 
them to others, and gives directions, so that everything 
is done in his name, and he himself does but little. It 
is said that he gives a handsome yearly salary to several 
artists of talent, and pays it even when they are ill 
and do nothing throughout the year. 

During the performance of the opera I was highly 


286 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


pleased not to see the prompter’s box, which generally 
so unpleasantly conceals the feet of the actor. I was 
also pleased with the situation of the conductor. He 
stood a little raised in the middle of the orchestra, next 
to the stalls, so that he could see and be seen by his 
whole band, giving directions to the right and left, and 
having a full view of the stage over their heads. In 
Weimar, on the contrary, the conductor is so placed 
that he has indeed a full view of the stage, but the 
band is behind him, so that he is always obliged to 
turn round if he would give directions to any one of 
the players. The band itself is very numerous. I 
counted sixteen basses, eight of which were placed 
at each extremity. The players, who are nearly a 
hundred in number, are turned towards the conductor 
on both sides, so that they have their backs turned to 
the pit-boxes by the proscenium, with one eye towards 
the stage and the other towards the pit, and with the 
conductor directly in front. 

With respect to the voices of the singers, I was 
delighted with the purity and strength of the tone, and 
the freedom and absence of effort in their enunciation. 

I thought of Zelter, and wished he was by my side. 
I was pleased above all with the voice of Signora 
Corradi-Pantanelli, who played the page. I spoke 
with others concerning this excellent singer, and heard 
that she was engaged for next winter at La Scala. 
The prima donna who played the Countess Adele, was 
Signora Albertini, a young debutante. ‘There is in her 
voice something very soft and pure, as the light of the 
sun. Every one who comes from Germany must be 


delighted with her to the highest degree. A young 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 287 


basso also distinguished himself. His voice is very 
powerful, but somewhat inflexible; and his acting, 
though unconstrained, indicates the infancy of his art. 
The. choruses went admirably, and kept the greatest 
precision with regard to the orchestra. With respect 
to the gesticulation of the actors, 1 observed a certain 
quiet moderation, whereas I had anticipated an expres- 
sion of the lively Italian temperament. The paint was 
a mere tinge of red, such as one likes to see in nature, 
and did not at all give the impression of rouged cheeks. 

Considering the strength of the orchestra, I found 
it remarkable that the players never drowned the 
voices of the singers, but that these always were pre- 
dominant. I spoke on the subject at the table d’hote, 
and heard an intelligent young man give the following 
explanation :— 

‘© The German bands,” said he, “are egotistical, 
and wish as bands to come out and do something. An 
Italian band, on the other hand, is discreet. It knows 
well enough that in an opera the singing of the human 
voices is the principal matter, and that the orchestral 
accompaniment should only be subservient. Hence, 
however many violins, clarionets, trumpets, and 
basses, are played in an Italian orchestra, the impres- 
sion of the whole will always be soft and pleasant ; 
while a German band, with a third of the strength, 
very soon becomes loud and noisy.” 

I could not answer words so convincing, and was 
glad to find my problem so well solved. 

“¢ Still,” I remarked, “are not the modern com- 
posers also in fault, through making the instrumental 
part of their operas too strong? 


288 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


“ Certainly,” replied the stranger, “ modern com- 
posers have fallen into this fault; but never truly great 
masters, like Mozart and Rossini. ‘These, indeed, in 
their accompaniments, introduce distinct themes, inde- 
pendent of the melody of the vocal part; but, never- 
theless, they have always used such moderation, that 
the voice of the singer is always in the ascendant. On 
the other hand, while with modern masters there is 
real poverty in the accompaniment, they often drown 
the singing by their violent instrumentation.” 

I gave my assent to these remarks of the intelligent 
young stranger. The person who sat next me at 
table, told me he was a young Livonian Baron, who 
had long resided in London and Paris, and had now 
been here for five years, studying very hard. 

I must mention something else which I observed 
in the opera, and which gave me much pleasure. It is 
the circumstance that the Italians treat night on the 
Stage not as actual night, but only symbolically. It 
was always unpleasant to me that, in the German 
theatres, when it was supposed to be night, a perfect 
night set in, so that the expression of the actors, and 
often their persons vanished altogether, and nothing 
but mere darkness was visible. ‘The Italians manage 
more wisely. On their stage night is never actual, but 
only an indication. ‘The back of the stage is a little 
darkened—that is all—and the actors come so much 
into the foreground that they are completely lighted, 
and not the least expression escapes us. In painting 
the same method should be adopted, and I should be 
surprised to find pictures in which the faces were so 
darkened by night that their expression could not be 


sr yak Si) Cy nl ina DR 
tF ¥ ore) oe , > 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 289 


recognised. I hope I shall never find such a picture 
by a good master. 

I find the same excellent maxim applied in the 
ballet. A nocturnal scene was represented, in which 
a girl was attacked by a robber. The stage is only a 
little darkened, so that all the movements and the 
expression of the face are perfectly visible. At the 
shrieks of the girl the assassin escapes, and the 
peasants hasten from their cottages with lights. ‘These 
are not dim, but of a whitish flame, and it is only by 
the contrast of this very great brilliancy that we per- 
ceive it was night in the previous scene. 

What I had been told in Germany about the loud 
Italian public, I have found confirmed ; and, indeed, 
the longer the opera is played, the more does the noise 
of the public increase. A fortnight ago I saw one of 
the first representations of the ‘* Conte Ory.” The 
singers were received with applause on their entrance ; 
the audience, to be sure, talked during the less striking 
scenes, but when good airs were sung all was still, 
and general approbation rewarded the singers. The 
choruses went excellently, and I admired the precision 
with which voices and orchestra always kept together. 
But now, when the opera has been given every even- 
ing since that time, the public has totally ceased to pay 
attention; everybody talks, and the house resounds 
with the noise. Scarcely a hand is stirred, and one 
can scarcely imagine how the singers can open their 
lips on the stage, or how the instrumentalists can play 
a note in the orchestra. There is an end to zeal and 
precision ; and the foreigner, who likes to hear some- 

VOL, II. U 


290 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, [ 1830. 


thing, would be in despair—if despair were at all 
possible in so cheerful an assembly. 


| Milan, May 30, 1830. 

I will here record something which I have hitherto 
remarked with pleasure, or which has at any rate 
interested me in Italy. 

On the Simplon, amid the desert of snow and mist, 
in the vicinity of a refuge, a boy and his little sister 
were journeying up the mountain by the side of our 
carriage. Both had on their backs little baskets filled 
with wood, which they had gathered in the lower 
mountains, where there is still some vegetation, The 
boy gave us some specimens of rock crystal and other 
stone, for which we gave him some small coins. The 
delight with which he cast stolen glances at his money 
as he passed by our carriage, made upon me an 
indelible impression, Never before had I seen such a 
heavenly expression of felicity. I could not but reflect 
that God has placed all sources and capabilities for 
happiness in the human heart ; and that, with respect 
to happiness, it is perfectly indifferent how and where 
one dwells. 

(Sup.*) Monday, August 2, 1830. 

The news of the Revolution of July, which had 
already commenced, reached Weimar to-day, and set 
every one in a commotion. I went in the course of 
the afternoon to Goethe’s. ‘‘ Now,” exclaimed he to 
me, as I entered, “‘ what do you think of this great 
event? ‘The volcano has come to an eruption ; every- 
thing is in flames, and we have no longer a transaction 
with closed doors !” 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 291 


“A frightful story,” returned I. ‘* But what could 
be expected under such notoriously bad circumstances, 
and with such a ministry, otherwise than that the 
whole would end in the expulsion of the royal family ?” 

“We do not appear to understand each other, my 
good friend,” returned Goethe. ‘I am not speaking 
of those people, but of something quite different. I 
am speaking of the contest, so important for science, 
between Cuvier and Geoffrey de Saint Hilaire, which 
has come to an open rupture in the academy.” 

This expression of Goethe’s was so very unex- 
pected that I did not know what to say, and for some 
minutes felt my thoughts perfectly at a standstill. 

‘¢ The matter is of the highest importance,” continued 
Goethe, “and you can form no conception of what I 
felt at the intelligence of the sitting of the 19th of July. 
We have now in Geoffrey de Saint Hilaire a powerful 
and permanent ally. I see how great must be the 
interest of the French scientific world in this affair; 
because, notwithstanding the terrible political commo- 
tion, the sitting of the 19th of July was very fully 
attended. However, the best of it is, that the synthe- 
tic manner of treating nature, introduced by Geoffrey 
into France, cannot be kept back any more. ‘The 
affair is now become public, through the free discussion 
of the academy, and that in the presence of so large an 
audience. It is no longer referred to secret com- 
mittees, and arranged and got rid of, and smothered 
behind closed doors. From the present time, mind 
will rule over matter in the physical investigations of 
the French. There will be glances of the great 
maxims of creation, of the mysterious workshop of 

U2 


292 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


God! Besides, what is all intercourse with nature, if, 
by the analytical method, we merely occupy ourselves 
with individual material parts, and do not feel the 
breath of the spirit, which prescribes to every part its 
direction, and orders, or sanctions, every deviation, by 
means of an inherent law ! 

“¢ I have exerted myself in this great affair for fifty 
years. At first, I was alone, then I found support, and 
now at last, to my great joy, I am surpassed by conge- 
nial minds. When I sent my first discovery of inter- 
mediate bones to Peter Camper, I was, to my infinite 
mortification, utterly ignored. With Blumenbach I 
fared no better, though, after personal intercourse, he 
came over to my side. But then I gained kindred 
spirits in Sémmering, Oken, Dalton, Carus, and 
other equally excellent men. And now Geoffrey de 
Saint Hilaire is decidedly on our side, and with him 
all his important scholars and adherents in France. 
This occurrence is of incredible value to me; and I 
justly rejoice that I have at last witnessed the universal 
victory of a subject to which I have devoted my life, 
and which, moreover, is my own par excellence.” 


(Sup.*) Saturday, August 21, 1830. 

I recommended to Goethe a hopeful young man. 
He promised to do something for him, but appeared to 
have little confidence. 

“ Whoever,” said he, ‘has, like myself, during a 
whole life lost valuable time and money through the 
protection of young talents, and those talents which 
have at first awakened the highest hopes, but of which 
nothing has come in the end, must, by degrees, lose 








1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 293 


all enthusiasm and pleasure in pursuing such a course.. 
It is now the turn of you younger people to take my 
part and play the Mzcenas.” 

Apropos of this declaration of Goethe’s, I compared 
the delusive promises of youth with trees which bear 
double blossom, but no fruit. 


I* was about to proceed with my communication, 
but I was interrupted, and wrote nothing more during 
my further residence in Italy, though there was not a 
day in which I did not receive some important impres- 
sion, and make some important observation. It was 
not until I had parted from Goethe’s son, and had 
left the Alps behind me, that I wrote as follows to 
Goethe :— 

Geneva, Sept. 12, 1830. 

I have so much to tell you, that I do not know 
where I shall begin, and where I shall end. 

Your excellency has remarked in jest that travelling 
on is a very pleasant matter, if there were no coming 
back. I find this remark confirmed to my sorrow, as 
I feel myself at a sort of crossway, and do not know 
which direction to take. 

My residence in Italy, short as it was, has not been 
—as indeed might be expected—without important 
influence upon me. A bountiful nature has been 
discovered to me with its wonders, and has asked me 
how far I have advanced to comprehend. such a lan- 
guage. Great works of man, great actions have 
excited me, and have made me look to myself to ascer- 
tain my own capabilities. Existences of a thousand 


* Here, of course, Eckerman speaks.—Trans. 


294 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


kinds have come into contact with me, and have asked 
me how it stands with my own. Thus I find living 
within me three great requisites,—namely, to increase 
my knowledge ; to improve my condition; and, above 
all, in order to secure these, to do something. 

With respect to this last requisite, I am by no 
means in doubt as to what is to be done. For a long 
time I have had at heart a work, which has occupied 
my leisure for some years, and which is as far com- 
plete, as a new-built ship, which still lacks its sails and 
rigging to be fit for sea. 

I mean those conversations on great maxims in all 
departments of science and art, as well as on the 
various revelations touching higher human interests, 
works of mind, and the chief personages of the age, 
to which the six years, which I have been happy 
enough to pass in your society, have offered such 
frequent occasion. These conversations have been 
for me a source of infinite culture; and, as I have 
found the greatest delight in hearing them, and being 
instructed by them, I wish to give the same pleasure 
to others, by writing them down, and thus preserving 
them for the better class of humanity. 

Your excellency has occasionally seen some sheets of 
these conversations ; you have honoured them with your 
approbation, and have frequently encouraged me to pro- 
ceed inmy undertaking. This I have done at intervals, 
as well as my unsettled life at Weimar allowed, so that 
now I have abundant materials for about two volumes. 

When I set out for Italy I did not put these impor- 
tant manuscripts into my trunk with my other papers, 
but, after sealing them up in a separate parcel, confided 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 295 


them to the care of our friend Soret, with the request 
that, if any mishap befel me on the journey, and I did 
not return, he would place them in your hands. 

After the visit to Venice, during our second stay 
at Milan, I was attacked by a fever, so that I was very 
ill for some nights, and lay for a whole week in a very 
miserable condition, without the slightest appetite. In 
my lonely hours I chiefly thought of the manuscript, 
and felt uneasy when I reflected that it was not in a 
state sufficiently clear and complete to be used at once. 
The fact occurred to me that a great deal was written 
only with pencil, that some was obscure and impro- 
perly expressed, that much was merely hinted, and 
that, in a word, a regular revision and a last hand 
would be requisite. 

Under these circumstances, and with this feeling, I 
had an anxious desire for my papers. ‘The pleasure of | 
seeing Naples and Rome was gone, and I felt a wish 
to return to Germany, that, secluded from everybody, 
I might complete the manuscript. 

Without mentioning what was working within me, 
I spoke to your son about the state of my health. He 
felt the danger of dragging me farther in the sultry 
climate, and we agreed that I should in the first place 
visit Genoa, and that, if my health did not improve 
there, I should be at liberty to return to Germany. 

In accordance with this view we had resided for 
some time in Genoa, when we received a letter from 
you, in which you seemed, though at a distance, to feel 
our position, and stated that if I had any inclination to 
return, I should be welcome. 

We paid all reverence to your hint, and were 


296 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


delighted that, from the other side of the Alps, you 
gave your assent to an arrangement which had just 
been made between us. I resolved to set off at once, 
but your son thought it better that I should remain a 
little longer, and set off on the same day as himself. 

This I did readily, and it was at five o’clock in the 
morning, on Sunday the 25th July, that we gave each 
other a farewell embrace in the streets of Genoa. 
Two carriages were stationed ; one was to go along 
the coast up to Leghorn, the other was to cross the 
mountains for Turin, and in this I placed myself with 
other passengers. ‘Thus we parted in opposite direc- 
tions, both deeply moved, and with the heartiest wishes 
for our mutual welfare. 

After a three days’ journey, in great heat and dust, 
through Novi, Alexandria, and Asti, I came to Turin, 
where it was necessary for me to rest some days, 
looking about me, and to wait a more fitting oppor- 
tunity to cross the Alps. ‘This occurred on Monday 
the 2nd of August, when we crossed Mount Cenis, 
and arrived at Chambery at six o’clock in the evening. 
On the afternoon of the 7th, I found opportunity to 
proceed to Aix; and late on the 8th, amid rain and 
darkness, I reached Geneva, where I put up at the 
sign of the “¢ Crown.” 

This inn was thronged with Englishmen, who, 
having just come from Paris, and having been eye- 
witnesses of the extraordinary scenes that had taken 
place there, had a great deal to tell, You may 
imagine what an effect the first experience of these 
world-shaking events had upon me, with what interest 
I read the newspapers, which had been suppressed in 








LSU 


eS Le) Sg me eS 
Pores wy) 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 297 


Piedmont, and how eagerly I listened to the narratives 
of the new comers who arrived every day, and to the 
gossip and disputes of the politicians at the table 
a’hite. Everybody was in a state of the greatest 
excitement, and an endeavour was made to trace the 
consequences which might result to the rest of Europe 
from such violent measures. I visited our fair friend, 
Sylvester, and Soret’s parents and brother; and as in 
such excited times one must have an opinion, [ laid it 
down in my own mind that the French ministers were 
chiefly culpable for reducing the monarch to measures, 
by which confidence and respect for the sovereign 
were compromised with the people. 

It was my intention to write to you in detail imme- 
diately on my arrival at Geneva; but the excitement 
and distraction of the first days were so great, that I 
could not collect myself to communicate facts in the 
form I desired. Then, on the 15th of August, I 
received a letter from Genoa, from our friend Sterling, 
containing information which troubled me _ exceed- 
ingly, and prevented all communication with Weimar. 
Sterling told me in this letter that your son, on the 


_very day when he had parted from me, had broken his 


collar-bone, in consequence of the carriage overturning, 
and had been laid up at Spezzia. I wrote at once, by 
way of reply, that I was ready to cross the Alps at the 
very first hint, and that I should not leave Genoa to 
proceed on my way to Germany until I received per- 
fectly satisfactory news from Genoa. In expectation 
of this, I took a private lodging, and made use of my 
stay to improve myself in the French language. 

At last, on the 28th of August, a double day of 


298 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


rejoicing was prepared for me; a second letter from 
Sterling delighted me with the information that your 
son had in a short time quite recovered from his 
accident, was thoroughly safe, sound, and in excellent 
spirits. Thus all my anxiety on his account was at 
once removed, and in the stillness of my heart I cited 
the lines, — 


«Du danke Gott wenn er dich presst, 
Und dank’ ihm wenn er dich wieder entlasst.” . 


“¢ Give thanks to God when hard he presses, 
And thank him, too, when he releases.” 


I now seriously set about giving you an account of 
myself, and was about to tell you much the same as 
what is written in the preceding pages. I was about 
to inquire again whether I might not be permitted, in 
quiet seclusion, far away from Weimar, to complete 
that manuscript, which I have so much at heart, since 
I felt that I could not be perfectly free and happy till I 
had laid before you the long-cherished work, stitched 
and fairly copied, that you might sanction its publica- 
tion. 

Now, however, I have received letters from Weimar, 
in which I see that my speedy return is expected, and 
that there is an intention to give mea place. I can 
but return thanks for such kindness, though it seems 
counter to my present plans, and brings me into a 
state of discord with myself. 

If I now returned to Weimar, a speedy completion 
of my literary plans would be impossible. The old 
distractions would return, and in our little city, where 
one person is perpetually in contact with another, I 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 299 


should again be disturbed by various trivial circum- 
stances, without being of decided use to myself or any 
one else. 

Weimar, I grant, contains much that is good and 
excellent, much that I have long loved, and that I love 
still. Nevertheless, when I look back upon it, I fancy 
that I see, at the city gates, an angel witha fiery sword, 
to prevent my entrance, and to drive me back. 

I am, to my own knowledge, a strange sort of 
being. To certain things I adhere most constantly— 
I cleave to my plans for many years, and obstinately 
carry them out through a thousand windings and diffi- 
culties ; but in the several collisions of ordinary life no 
one is more dependent, wavering, and susceptible of 
impressions than myself. These two peculiarities 
constitute the varying, and, at the same time, secure 
destiny of my life. If I look back upon the path 
along which I have travelled, the circumstances 
through which I have passed present a motley 
variety ; but if I look deeper, I see through all a cer- 
tain simple track leading to a higher aspiration, and 
that I have even succeeded in ennobling and improving 
myself at successive steps of the scale. 

Even now it is this very impressionable and pliable 
peculiarity of my character which, from time to time, 
compels me to rectify my mode of life; just as a 
mariner, whom the caprices of various winds have 
turned from his course, always sails again the old 
track. 

Taking an office is now not compatible with the 
literary plans I have so long deferred. Neither is it 
any longer my plan to give lessons to young English- 


300 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


men. I have learned the language, which is all I: 
wanted, and at this I am delighted. I do not deny 
the advantages I have gained from a long intercourse 
with young foreigners, but everything has its end, and 
its period of change. 

Altogether, oral instruction and influence are quite 
out of my way. They belong to a profession for which 
I have neither talent nor training. I am totally with- 


out the gift of eloquence; so that, generally speaking, 


any living soul who sits opposite to me exercises such 
an influence over me, that I forget myself, that I am 
absorbed in the peculiarities and interests of another, 
and that, on this account, I feel a sense of oppression, 
and can rarely attain a free and powerful operation of 
my thoughts. 

On the other hand, with my paper before me, I feel 
quite free and self-possessed. Hence the written de- 
velopment of my thoughts is my real delight, and my 
real life, so that I regard every day as lost on which I 
have not written some pages to my own satisfaction. 

It is now an impulse of my whole nature to act from 
myself upon a wide circle, to acquire influence in litera- 
ture, and, as a furtherance of my good fortune, to gain 
some renown. 

Literary fame considered by itself is, indeed, 
scarcely worth the trouble of earning; I have even 
seen that it can be very burthensome and distressing. 
Nevertheless, it has this advantage, that it shows the 
active aspirant that his operations have found a soil,— 
and this is a divine sort of feeling, which elevates, and 
gives a degree of thought and power which would not 
otherwise be attained. 


~hae 
aed 


ey Ne APE TEL Te Reve ees re re 


.1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 308 


If, on the other hand, one has confined oneself too 
long in a narrow sphere, the mind and character are 
injured ; one becomes at last incapable of great things, 
and to elevate oneself becomes a difficulty. 

If the Grand-Duchess really intends to do some- 
thing for me, persons of such high rank can easily find 
a form in which to manifest their friendly disposition. 
If she will support and patronize my next literary 
efforts she will do a good work, the fruits of which 
shall not be lost. 

Of the prince, I can say that he has a special place 
in my heart. I expect much good from his mental 
capacity and his character, and shall be glad to place 
my little acquirements at his disposal. I shall con- 
stantly endeavour to increase in cultivation, and he will 
constantly. grow older; so that while I improve in 
giving, he will improve in receiving. 

But, above all, I have at heart the completion of 
that manuscript, which I mention once more. I should 
like to remain for some months in quiet seclusion, with 
my betrothed and her relations, in the neighbourhood of 
Gottingen, and to devote myself to this task, that free- 
ing myself from an old burden, I may prepare myself 
for others anew. My life has been for some years at 
a stand-still, and I should like it once more to flow 
freely. Moreover, my health is delicate and uncer- 
tain, I am not sure of remaining long in this world, 
and I should like to leave behind me something good, 
that would preserve my name for a while in the 
memory of mankind. 

I can, however, do nothing without you—without 
your sanction and your blessing. Your further wishes 


302 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. | 1830. 


with respect to myself are unknown to me, nor do I 
know the good that is designed for me among those in 
high places. With me the case stands as I have 
stated, and from my clear explanation you will easily 
see, whether reasons important for my happiness ren- 
der my speedy return desirable, or whether, with a 
heart at ease, I may carry out my own mental plans. 

In a few days I shall go from here through Neuf- 
chatel, Colmar, and Strasbourg, stopping by the way 
to look about me, and shall proceed to Frankfort, if 
occasion occurs. Now, I should be happy if I could 
receive a few lines from you at Frankfort, and beg of 
you to address me there, poste restante. 

I am glad to relieve my mind by the confession of 
its heavy burden, and hope in my next letter to com- 
municate something of a lighter nature to your 
excellency. 

Pray give my compliments to Hofrath Meyer, Ober- 
baudirector Coudray, Professor Riemer, Chancellor von 
Miller, and whoever is with you, and may be kind 
enough to remember me. 

As for yourself, I press you to my heart, and, re- 
taining feelings of the deepest love and reverence, 
remain, wherever | may be, Ever yours, 


E. 


Genoa, Sept. 14, 1830. 


To my great delight I learned, from your last letter 
at Geneva, that the gaps and the conclusion of the 
*¢ Classical Walpurgis-night” have been happily sur- 
mounted, The first three acts, it seems, are quite 
done, the “ Helen” is connected together, and thus the 





Pit) a, Pere re ee 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 303 


hardest task is accomplished. ‘The end, as you have 
told me, is already complete, and I hope that the fourth 
act will likewise be soon conquered, and that thus 
something great may be accomplished for the edifica- 
tion and exercise of future ages. My expectations are 
extraordinary, and every piece of news which shows me 
a triumph of the poetical powers will be received by 
me with delight. 

During my travels in Italy I have had frequent occa- 
sion to think of ‘* Faust,” and to apply some classical 
passages. When in Italy I saw the handsome men, 
and the fresh thriving children, I thought of the 
verses :-— 


*¢ Hier ist das Wohlbehagen erblich,” &c. 


*€ On every cheek and lip we trace 
Joy, as the patrimonial wealth ; 
Each is immortal in his place, 
Each glowing with content and health. 


“ And thus beneath the sunny days 
To manly strength the infant grows, 
We look, exclaiming with amaze— 
‘Children of men, or gods, are those ?’” 


On the other hand, when I was absorbed in the 
sight of the beautiful scenery, and feasted my heart 
and my eyes on lakes, mountains, and valleys, some 
invisible little devil seemed to be making sport with 
me, whispering into my ear :— 


*¢ If I had not rattled and shaken 
Would the world have been so fair?” 


All power of calm contemplation was then gone, 
absurdity began to rule, I felt a sort of revolution in 


304, CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


my soul, and I could not do otherwise than finish 
with a laugh, 

On these occasions I felt plainly enough that the 
poet should be always positive. Men use poets to 
express what they cannot express themselves. ‘They 
are overcome by a feeling—by a phenomenon ; they 
look after words, but find their own stock insufficient, 
and then the poet comes to their assistance, and by 
satisfying them sets them free. 

With this feeling I have often blessed those first 
lines, while I have laughingly cursed the others every 
day. But who could do without them in the position 
for which they are made, and in which they have the 
most beautiful influence. 

I have not kept a regular journal in Italy; the 
phenomena are too great, too numerous, and too varied 
for me to be willing or able to master them in a mo- 
ment. Nevertheless, I have kept my eyes and ears 
open, and have made many observations. I shall 
group my reminiscences together, and treat of them 
under separate heads. I have especially made some 
good observations relative to the ‘‘ Theory of Colours,” 
which I hope shortly to produce. ‘There is in them 
nothing actually new, but still it is pleasant to find new 
manifestations of an old law. 

At Genoa, Sterling displayed a great interest for the 
theory. What he has learned of Newton’s theory has 
not satisfied him, and hence he has open ears for those 
principles of your theory which I am often able to 
communicate. If opportunity could be found to send 
a copy of the work to Genoa, I may venture to say 
that such a present would not be unacceptable to him. 








aa. 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 305 


Here in Geneva, I found, three weeks ago, an 
ardent disciple in our lady-friend, Sylvestre. In this 
instance, I have remarked that the simple is harder to 
be apprehended than one supposes, and that it requires 
great practice to find constantly the fundamental. 
principle amid the various details of the phenomena. 
The exercise, however, gives great dexterity to the 
mind, since nature is very delicate, and one must 
always take care not to do her violence by too hasty 
an expression. 

Generally, however, there is not in Geneva the 
trace of any interest in so large a subject. Not only 
is the library here without a copy of your “¢ Theory of 
Colours,” but it is not even known that there is such 
a work in the world. ‘This may be the fault more of 
the Germans than of the Genevese, but it annoys me 
and provokes me to caustic remarks. 

Lord Byron, it is well known, remained here for 
some time ; and as he did not like society, he passed 
his days and nights in the open country, and on the 
lake, of which I have more to say in this place, and of 
which there is a noble monument in his ‘ Childe 
Harold.” He also remarked the colour of the Rhone ; 
and though he could not divine the cause of it, he 
nevertheless showed a susceptible eye. In a note to 
the third canto, he says,— , 

“ The colour of the Rhone at Geneva is blue to a 
depth of tint which I have never seen equalled in 
water, salt or fresh, except in the Mediterranean and 
Archipelago.” 

The Rhone, as it narrows itself to pass through 
Geneva, divides itself into two arms, which are crossed 

VOL. II. x 


306 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


by four bridges, and on these the .colour of the water 
may be well observed by all who are coming or going. 

Now it is remarkable that the water of one arm is 
blue, as was perceived by Byron, while that of the 
other is green. The arm in which the water appears 
blue flows more rapidly, and has so deep a channel 
that no light can penetrate it, and consequently there is 
perfect darkness below. The very clear water acts as 
a dense medium, and from our well-known laws the 
finest blue is produced. ‘The water of the other arm 
is not so deep, the light reaches the bottom, so that we 
see the pebbles ; and as it is not dark enough to become 
blue, but at the same time is not smooth, and the 
ground is not sufficiently pure, white, and shining, 
to be yellow, the colour remains between the two 
extremes, and appears as green. 

If, like Byron, I had a taste for mad pranks, and the 
means to play them off, I would make the following 
experiment,— 

In the green arm of the Rhone, ‘near the bridge, 
where people pass by thousands every day, I would 
fasten a large black board, or something of the kind, 
so far below the surface that a pure blue would be 
produced ; and, not far from this, a very large piece of 
white shining tin, at such a depth that a clouded yellow 
would appear in the sunshine. When the people as 
they passed saw the yellow and blue spots in the green 
water, they would be teazed by a riddle, which they 
would not be able to solve. One thinks of all sorts of 
pleasantries when one travels; but this seems to me to 
be good of its kind, inasmuch as there is some sense in 
it, and it might be of some use. 


~~, 








1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 307 


Some time ago I was at a bookseller’s, and in the 
first duodecimo which I took into my hands, my eye 
fell upon a passage, which I translate thus,— 

“ But tell me; if we discover a truth, must we 
communicate it to others? If you make it known, 
you are persecuted by an infinite number of people 
who gain their living from the error you oppose, say- 
ing that this error itself is the truth, and that the 
greatest error is that which tends to destroy it.” 

It seemed to me that this passage applied so well to 
the manner in which the scientific by profession have 
received your ** Theory of Colours,” that it must 
have been written on purpose ; and I was so highly 
pleased, that I bought the book for the sake of the 
passage. It contained the “ Paul and Virginia,” and . 
the “ Indian Cottage,” by Bernardin de St. Pierre, 
and hence I had no reason to regret my bargain. I 
read it with delight ; the clear noble sense of the author 
was quite refreshing, and I could perceive and appreciate 
his refined art, especially in the apt application of well- 
known similes. 

I have here, too, made my first acquaintance with 
Rousseau and Montesquieu, but lest my letter should 
itself become a book, I will for the present pass over 
these, as well as much else which I should like to 
say. 

Since I have disburdened my mind of the long letter 
of the day before yesterday, I have felt more free and 
cheerful than I have been for years, and I could go on 
writing and talking for ever. It will be absolutely 
necessary for me to stay, at least for the present, at a 
distance from Weimar. I hope that you approve this 

x 2 


“Ie eC ae 
A oy : 
¥ > : 
7 
3 
¥ 


308 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


plan, and can already anticipate the time when you 
will say that I have done right. 

To-morrow, the theatre here will open with the 
“ Barber of Seville,” which I mean to see; then I 
seriously intend to take my departure. ‘The weather 
seems to clear up and be favourable. It has rained 
here since your birthday, which opened with storms. 
These were passing all day long in this direction, from 
Lyons up the Rhone, across the lake, and towards 
Lausanne, so that it was thundering constantly. I pay 
16 sous a day for a room, which commands a beautiful 
prospect of the lake and the mountains. Yesterday 
it was raining below, the weather was cold, and the 
summits of the Jura appeared, after the passing 
shower, for the first time white with snow, which, 
however, has disappeared to-day. The promontory of 
Mont-Blanc begins already to array itself in permanent 
white ; along the shore of the lake, amid the green of 
a luxuriant vegetation, some trees are still yellow and 
brown ; the nights become cold, and we can see that 
autumn is at hand. 

My hearty remembrances to Frau von Goethe, 
Fraulein Ulrica, and Walter, Wolf, and Alma. I 
have a great deal to tell Frau von Goethe about 
Sterling, and shall write to-morrow. 

__I hope to receive a letter from your excellency at 
Frankfort, and am happy in the anticipation. 

With the best wishes and most constant affection, I 

remain, | 


E. 





———————— re 





1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 309 


On the 21st of September I set off from Geneva, 
and after remaining a couple of days at Berne, I arrived 
on the 27th at Strasburg, where, again, I remain for 
some days. 

Here, as I passed a hair-dresser’s window, I saw a 
small bust of Napoleon, which, viewed from the street 
against the darkness of the room, exhibited all the 
gradations of blue, from a pale milky hue to a deep 
violet. I suspected that this bust, seen from the 
interior of the room against the light, would exhibit 
all the gradations of yellow; and I could not resist 
the impulse of the moment to rush into the house, 
though the owners were unknown to me. 

My first glance was at the bust, which to my great 
delight shone upon me with the most brilliant colours 
on the active side from the palest yellow to a dark 
ruby-red. I asked eagerly whether this bust of the 
great hero was-not to be disposed of. ‘The master 
replied that, from a similar respect for the emperor, 
he had lately brought the bust from Paris, but that 
since my affection seemed, from my enthusiastic joy, 
greatly to exceed his own, the right of possession 
belonged to me, and he would readily part with it. 

This glass image was of inestimable value in my 
eyes, and I could not refrain from looking at the 
worthy owner with some astonishment, when for a 
few francs he placed it in my hands. I sent it with a 
remarkable medal, purchased at Milan, as a little 
present to Goethe, who could prize it according to its 
merits. 

_ Afterwards, at Frankfort, I received the following 
letters :— 


310 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


First Letrer. 

I write to tell you as briefly as possible that both 
your letters from Geneva arrived safe, though not 
before the 26th of September. I have only to say in 
haste,—remain in Frankfort till we have thoroughly 
considered how you are to pass next winter. 

I enclose a letter for Herr Geheimrath von 
Willemer and his lady, which you will be kind enough 
to deliver as soon as possible. You will find in them 
two friends, who are united with me in the fullest 
sense of the word, and will render your abode at 
Frankfort useful and agreeable. 

So much for the present. Write to me as soon as 
you have received this letter. 

Yours faithfully, 


GoETHE. 
Weimar, 26th September, 1830. 





SeconD LETTER. 

I send you the heartiest greetings, my dearest 
friend, in my native city, and hope that you will have 
passed the few days there in social enjoyments with 
my excellent friends. If you wish to go to Nor- 
denheim, and to remain there for a short time, I 
have nothing to object. If you intend in your quiet 
hours to occupy yourself with the manuscript which 
is in Soret’s hands, I shall be all the better pleased, as 
I do not wish it to be soon published, but shall be 
glad to go through it with you and correct it. Its 
value will be increased if I can attest that it is con- 
ceived perfectly in my spirit. More I do not say, but 





1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE, 311 


leave the rest to yourself, and expect to hear farther. 
Of your other friends I have not spoken to one since 
the receipt of your letter. 

Your hearty wellwisher, 


J. W. von Gortue. 
Weimar, r2th October, 1830. 





Tuirp Letter. 

The lively impression which you received from the 
remarkable bust, and the colours it produced—the 
desire to obtain it—-the pleasant adventure you 
achieved on that account, and the kind thought of 
making me a present of it,—all this shows how 
thoroughly you are penetrated with the grand primitive 
phenomenon which here appears thoroughly revealed. 
This idea—this feeling, with all its fruitfulness, will 
accompany you through your whole life, and will 
manifest itself in various productive ways. Error 
belongs to libraries, truth to the human mind,—books 
may be increased by books, while the intercourse with 
living primitive laws gratifies the mind that can 
embrace the simple, disentangle the perplexed, and 
enlighten the obscure. 

If your Demon again brings you to Weimar, you 
shall see the image standing in a strong clear sun, 
where beneath the calm blue of the transparent face 
the thick mass of the breast and the epaulettes go 
through the ascending and descending scale of every 
shade from the strongest ruby-red. As the granite 
head of Memnon utters sounds, so does this glass 
figure produce a coloured halo. Here we sce the 


312 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


hero victorious even for the theory of colours. 
Receive my warmest thanks for this unexpected con- 
firmation of a doctrine I have so much at heart. 

With your medal, too, you have doubly and trebly 
enriched my cabinet. My attention has been called 
to a man called Dupré, an excellent sculptor, brass- 
founder, and medalist. He it was who modelled and 
cast the likeness of Henry IV. on the Pont-Neuf. 
Being stimulated by the medal you sent me, I looked 
over the rest of my collection, and found some very 
excellent ones of the same name, and others probably 
by the same hand, so that your gift has afforded me a 
pleasant impulse. 

As for my ‘* Metamorphosis” with Soret’s transla- 
tion, we have only reached the fifth sheet, and I long 
doubted whether I should curse or bless this under- 
taking, but now I again find myself forced back to the 
contemplation of organic nature; I am pleased, and 
willingly pursue my task. ‘The maxims which I have 
entertained for forty years are still valid,—they serve 
to guide one successfully through the whole labyrinth 
of the comprehensible to the very limit of the incom- 
prehensible, where, after much profit, one may reason- 
ably stop. No philosopher of the old or new world 
has been able to reach any farther. One can scarcely 
venture to say more in writing. 

Jj. W. von Gorrue. 


(Sup.*) Wednesday, October 13, 1830. 
Goethe showed me some tables in which he had 
written many names of plants in the Latin and 
German languages, in order to learn them by heart. 











wo pia 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 313 


He told me that he had a room which had been 
completely papered with such tables, and in which, 
whilst walking round, he had studied and learned from 
the walls. ‘It grieved me,” said he, “ that it was 
afterwards whitewashed. I had also another room, 
upon which were written chronological notes of my 
labours during a long series of years, and to which I 
always added the latest. ‘This also was unfortunately 
whitewashed, which I regret no less, as it might now 
be of great service to me.” 


(Sup.*) Wednesday, October 20, 1830. 

For a short hour with Goethe, in order to consult 
with him, on the part of the Grand-Duchess, concern- 
ing a silver escutcheon, which the Prince intends to 
present to the Cross-bow Archers Company in this 
town, of which he has become a member. 

Our conversation soon turned upon other subjects, 
and Goethe begged me to give him my opinion upon 
the Saint-Simonians. 

“The principal aim of their theory,” returned I, 
“© appears to be,—that each should work for the 
happiness of the whole, as a necessary condition of his 
own happiness.” 

“] think,” returned Goethe, “ that each ought 
to begin with himself, and make his own fortune 
first, from which the happiness of the whole will 
at last unquestionably follow. Altogether, this theory 
appears to me perfectly impracticable. It is in opposi- 
tion to all nature, all experience, and all the course of 
events for thousands of years. If each one only does 
his duty as an individual, and if each one works 


99 





314 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [18 30. 


rightly in his own vocation, it will be well with the 
whole. Never, in my vocation as an author, have I 
asked,—what would the multitude have, and how can 
I be of service to the whole, but I have always 
endeavoured to improve myself and sharpen my own 
faculties, to raise the standard of my own personality, 
and then to express only that which I had recognised 
as good and true. This has certainly, as I will not 
deny, worked usefully in a large sphere ; still, it was 
not my aim, but the necessary resu/t, which is found in 
all the effects of natural powers. If, as an author, I 
had made the wishes of the great multitude my aim, 
and had endeavoured to satisfy these, I should have 
told them short stories, and made sport with them, 
like the late Kotzebue.” 

‘¢ That cannot be contradicted,” returned I. ‘* But, 
however, there is not merely a happiness which I 
enjoy as a single individual, but also one which I 
enjoy as a citizen and member of a great community. 
If one does not lay down as a principle the attainment 
of the greatest possible happiness for a whole people, 
from what basis should legislation proceed.” 

‘If that is what you are driving at,” said Goethe, 
“‘ T have nothing to reply. But in such a case, only 
a very select few could make use of your principle. 
It would be only a receipt for princes and legislators, 
although it appears to me that the tendency of laws 
should be rather to diminish the amount of evil than to 
produce an amount of happiness.” 

“* Both,” returned I, ‘‘ come pretty much to the 
same thing, Bad roads, for instance, appear to me a 
great evil. But if a prince introduce good roads into 


1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 315 


his state down to the poorest hamlet, not only is a 
great evil removed, but a great good is gained for his 
people. Again, a tardy administration of justice is a 
great evil. But if a prince, by establishing a public 
civil mode of proceeding, affords to his people speedy , 
justices not merely is a great evil removed, but a great 
good is conferred.” 

“In this key,” rejoined Goethe, “ I would pipe 
quite another song. However, we leave some evils 
untouched that something may remain upon which 
mankind can further develop their powers. In the 
mean while, my doctrine is this,—let the father take 
care of his house, the artizan of his customers, and the 
clergy of mutual love, and the police will not disturb 
our joy.” 





During my stay at Nordheim, which I did not reach 
till the end of October, having stopped some time at 
Frankfort and Cassel, every circumstance combined to 
make my return to Weimar desirable. 

Goethe had not approved of a speedy publication of 
my conversations, and hence a successful opening of a 
purely literary career was not to be thought of. 

Then the sight of her whom I had ardently loved 
for many years, and the feeling of her great qualities, 
which was every day renewed, excited in me the desire 
of a speedy union, and the wish for a secure sub- 
sistence. 

Under these circumstances I received a message 
from Weimar, by order of the Grand-Duchess, and 
hailed it with delight, as may be seen by the following 
letter to Goethe :— 


316 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1830. 


Nordheim, November 6, 1830. 


Man appoints, and God disappoints ; and, before we 
can turn about, our circumstances and our wishes 
have been otherwise than we anticipated. 

Some weeks ago I had a certain dread of returning 
to Weimar, and now, as matters stand, I shall not 
only soon and gladly return, but I shall harbour the 
thought, and take up my residence there, and settle for 
good. 

I received a few days ago a letter from Soret, with 
the offer of a fixed salary, on the part of the Grand- 
Duchess, if I will return and go on as _ hitherto 
instructing the Prince. Some other good news Soret 
will communicate by word of mouth; and from all 
this I gather that I am kindly thought of. 

I should like to write an answer in the affirmative 
to Soret, but I hear that he is gone to his family at 
Geneva, and hence I can only address your excellency 
with the request that you will be pleased to commu- 
nicate to her imperial highness my resolution to return 
soon. 

I hope at the same time that this intelligence will 
give you some pleasure, since you have so long had at 
heart my happiness and peace of mind. 

I send you the warmest greetings from all your 
friends, and hope shortly to see you once more. 


E. 


On the afternoon of the 20th November I left 
Nordheim, and set off for Gottingen, which I reached 
at dusk, 


7. 


1830.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 317 


In the evening, at the table d’hote, when the land- 
lord heard that I had come from Weimar, and was 
on my way back, he calmly told me that the great 
poet Goethe had had to undergo a severe misfortune in 
his old age, since, according to the papers of the day, 
his only son had died of paralysis, in Italy. 

I passed a sleepless night. The event which affected 
me so nearly was constantly before my eyes. The 
following days and nights, which I passed on the road, 
and in Miihlhausen and Gotha, were no better. Being 
alone in the carriage, under the influence of the gloomy 
November days, and in desert fields, where there was 
no external object to distract my attention or to cheer 
me, I in vain endeavoured to fix my attention upon 
other thoughts. While among the people at the inns, 
I constantly heard of the mournful event which so 
nearly affected myself, as of one of the novelties of the 
day. My greatest fear was, that Goethe, at his ad- 
vanced years, would not be able to surmount the 
violent storm of paternal feelings. And what an im- 
pression, I thought, will my own arrival make—when 
I departed with his son, and now come back alone. 
It will seem as though he has not really lost him till 
he sees me. 

With these thoughts and feelings, I reached the last 
station before Weimar, on Tuesday the 23rd of 
November, at six o’clock in the evening. I felt, for 
the second time in my life, that human existence has 
heavy moments through which one must pass. I 
communed in thought with higher beings above me, 
when I was struck by the light of the moon, which 
came from amid thick clouds, and after shining 


318 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1830. 


brightly for some moments was wrapped in darkness 
as before. Whether this was chance, or something 
more, I took it as a favourable omen from above, and 
thus received unexpected encouragement. 

I just greeted the people at my residence, and then 
set off at once for Goethe’s house. I first went to 
Frau von Goethe. I found her already in mourning, 
but calm and collected, and we had a great deal to say 
to each other. 


Thursday, November 25, 1830. 

This morning Goethe sent me some books, which 
had arrived as presents for me from English and Ger- 
man authors. 

At noon I went to dine with him. I found him 
looking at’ a portfolio of engravings and drawings, 
which had been offered him for sale. He told me 
he had had the pleasure that morning of a visit from 
the Grand-Duchess, to whom he had mentioned my 
return. 

Frau von Goethe joined us, and we sat down to 
dinner. I-was obliged to give an account of my 
travels. I spoke of Venice, Milan, Genoa; and he 
seemed particularly interested about the family of the 


English consul there. I then spoke of Geneva; and 


he asked with sympathy after the Soret family, and 
Herr von Bonstetten. He wished for a particular 
description of the latter, which I gave him as well as I 
could. 

After dinner, I was pleased that Goethe began to 
speak of my ‘ Conversations.” 

“Tt must be your first work,” said he; ‘¢ and we 


am. 





1830. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 319 


will not let it go till the whole is complete, and in 
order.” 

Still, Goethe appeared to me unusually silent to-day, 
and oftentimes lost in thought, which I feared was no 


good sign. 
Tuesday, November 30, 1830. 


Last Friday, we were thrown into no small anxiety. 
Goethe was seized with a violent hemorrhage in the 
night, and was near death all the day. He lost, count- 
ing the vein they opened, six pounds of blood, which 
is a great quantity, considering that he is eighty years 
old. However, the great skill of his physician, Hofrath 
Vogel, and his incomparable constitution, have saved 
him this time, so that he recovers rapidly, has once 
more an excellent appetite, and sleeps again all night. 
Nobody is admitted, and he is forbidden to speak; 
but his ever active mind canot rest; he is already 
thinking of his work. This morning, I received from 
him the following note, written in bed, with a lead 
pencil :-— 3 


“Have the goodness, my best doctor, to look 
once again at the accompanying poems, with which 
you are familiar, and to re-arrange the others which are 
new, so as to adapt them to their place in the whole. 
‘ Faust’ shall presently follow. 

“¢ In hope of a happy meeting, 
“ GoETHE. 

“Weimar, 30th November, 1830. 

On Goethe’s complete recovery, which soon fol- 
lowed, he devoted his whole attention to the first act 


of ‘ Faust,” aii ‘to the sso pletion of the fourth fe: 


volume of * Dichtung und Wahrheit.” : i 


He wished me to examine his short heretofore un- a 
published papers, and to look through his journals and 


letters, that we might know how to proceed with the 
new edition. 

Examining my “Conversations” with him was at 
present out of the question. Besides, I thought it 
wiser, instead of occupying myself with what I had 
already written, to increase my stock with something 
new, while opportunity was still vouchsafed me by a 
kindly fate. 





‘ F “ 





tb 1831 
- e 
— 
7 
” ‘ 
1 
} ¢ ‘ 
. 
. 
. 
* 


VOL. II. : ' Y j } 





CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 





‘7a 
‘ 
2 





1831. 


Saturday, January 1, 1831. 
Of Goethe’s letters to various persons, copies of 
which have been kept in parcels since the year 1807, 
I have during the last weeks carefully gone through 
the series of several years. I will in the following 
paragraphs set down some general remarks, which may 
be used in some future edition. 


I. 

In the first place, the question has arisen,—whether 
it is expedient to give these letters merely in the shape 
of extracts. 

To this I reply that altogether it has been Goethe’s 
nature to go to work with some intention even in the 
smallest matters, and that this seems to have been 
particularly the case with regard to these letters, where 
the author has always devoted his whole soul to the 
subject, so that not only is every sheet perfectly written 
from beginning to end, but there is not a line which 
does not reveal a superior nature and thorough culti- 
vation. 

It is my opinion, therefore, that the letters should 

> 5 ae 


324 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


be given entire, especially as the single passages of 
importance often receive their true lustre and real signi- 
ficance only through what precedes and follows. 

Then, if we look closely at the matter, and fancy 
these letters laid before a large and varied world, who 
would presume to say which passage was important 
and worthy of communication, and which was not? 
The grammarian, the biographer, the philosopher, the 
moralist, the man of natural science, the artist, the 
poet, the academician, the actor, and so on ad infini- 
tum, have each of them his own peculiar interest, so 
that one will skip a passage which another regards as 
highly important, and applies to himself. 

Thus, for instance, in the first series belonging to 
1807, there is a letter to a friend, whose son is about 
to devote himself to a forest-life, and to whom Goethe 
prescribes the course which the young man is to adopt. 
A young author will probably pass over a letter of this 
kind, while a forester will certainly perceive with delight 
that the poet has looked at his department as well as 
others, and has here also tried to give good counsel. 

I repeat, therefore, that I am for giving these letters 
just as they are, without mutilation, especially as they 
are already distributed entire, and we may be sure that 
the persons who have received them will some day 
print them as they have been written. 


Qe 
If, however, there are letters which one would 
scruple to publish entire, but which contain good 
isolated passages, one may copy these passages, and 
either assign them to the year to which they belong, 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 325 


or make of them a special collection, accordingly as it 
seems most expedient. 


3. 

It is possible that a letter may appear of no impor- 
tance in the first parcel in which we find it, and that 
we may be against its publication, If, however, it is 
found that such a letter has consequences in after years, 
and may be regarded as the first link of an extended 
chain, it will be rendered important by this very 
circumstance, and may be classed with those fit for 
publication. 


4e 
The doubt may arise, whether it is more expedient 


to arrange the letters according to the persons to whom 
they are addressed, or to let them follow according to 
years, without any further order. 

ZI am for the latter method,—first, because it will 
cause a beautiful and ever refreshing variety ; for, when 
another person is addressed, not only is there always 
a change in the style, but the subjects themselves are 
different, so that the theatre, poetical ]abours, natural 
studies, domestic affairs, communications with friends 
and with persons of rank, pass along in ever-varied 
succession. 

I am also for an arrangement according to years, 
and without further order, because the letters of any 
one year, through contemporary influences, not only 
bear the character of that year, but show the cir- 
cumstances and occupations of the writer in every 
direction, so that such letters would be perfectly fitted 
to complete, with a fresh animated detail, the sum- 


326 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


mary biography of the ‘ Tag-und - Jahres-Hefte,” 
already printed. 
is 

Letters which other persons have already printed, 
because, perhaps, they contain an acknowledgment of 
their merits, or some other commendation or pecu- 
liarity, should be again introduced in this collection, 
partly because they belong to the series, partly be- 
cause these persons will be gratified by the proof 
afforded to the world that their documents were 
genuine. 

6. 

The question whether a letter of introduction shall 
be received into the collection or not, shall be decided 
after due consideration of the person recommended. If 
he has done nothing, and the letter contains nothing 
else of value, it is to be omitted; if, on the other 
hand, he has gained an honourable name in the world, 
it is to be inserted. 

B 

Letters to persons who are known through Goethe’s 
Life, such as Lavater, Jung, Behrisch, Kniep, Hackert, 
and others, are of themselves interesting, and should 
be published, even if they contain nothing of impor- 
tance. 

8. 

We must not be too fastidious in the publication of 
these letters, since they give us an idea of Goethe’s 
broad existence and varied influence in all directions ; 
while his deportment towards persons most unlike each 
other, and in the most different positions, may be 
regarded as highly instructive. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 327 


If several letters treat of the same subject, the best 
are to be selected; and when a certain point appears in 
several letters, it should be struck out in some, and left 
where it is best expressed, 


Io, 

In the letters of 1811 and 1812, there are perhaps 
twenty places where the autograph of remarkable per- 
sons is requested, ‘These and similar passages must 
not be suppressed, as they appear highly characteristic 
and amiable. 





The preceding paragraphs have been occasioned by 
a survey of the letters of 1807, 1808, and 1809. Any 
general remarks that may occur in the further progress 
of the work will be added as a supplement. 


E, 


Weimar, January 1, 1831. 





To-day, after dinner, I discussed this matter with 
Goethe, point by point, and he gave his assent to my 
suggestions. ‘¢In my will,” said he, ‘I will appoint 
you editor of these papers, and thus show that we 
have perfectly agreed as to the method to be observed.” 


(Sup.*) Tuesday, January 4, 1831. 

I nenibeil with Goethe, some books of drawings, by 
my friend ‘Tépfer, of Geneva, whose talent is equally 
great as an author and as a draughtsman; but who, 
until now, appears to have liked to express his lively 


328 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


conceptions in visible forms rather than in transient 
words. The number which contained the. adventures 
of Doctor Festus, in light pen-and-ink sketches, gave 
quite the impression of a comic novel, and pleased 
Goethe highly. ‘This is mad stuff, indeed!” ex- 
claimed he, from time to time, as he turned over one 
leaf after another ; ‘all sparkles with talent and intel- 
ligence. Some pages could not be excelled. If, for 
the future, he would choose a less frivolous subject, 
and restrict himself a little, he would produce things 
beyond all conception.” 

*¢ He has been compared with Rabelais,’ remarked 
I, “and reproached with having imitated him and 
borrowed his ideas.” 

‘¢ People do not know what they would have,” 
returned Goethe. ‘I find nothing of the sort; on 
the contrary, Tépfer appears to me to stand quite upon 
his own feet, and to be as thoroughly original as any 
talent I have met.” 

(Sup.*) Wednesday, January 17, 183%. 

I found Coudray with Goethe, examining some 
architectural drawings. I had about me a five-franc 
piece of 1830, with the likeness of Charles the Tenth, 
which I produced. Goethe joked about the pointed 
head. ‘‘’The organ of Veneration appears to have 
been very largely developed in him,” remarked he. 
*¢ Doubtless, from his excessive piety, he did not deem 
it necessary to pay his debts; on the other hand, we 
are deeply indebted to him, since, thanks to the freaks 
of his genius, Europe will not soon be quiet again.” 

We spoke about ‘* Rouge et Noir,” which Goethe 
regarded as Stendhal’s best work. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 329 


* Still I cannot deny,” added he, ‘* that some of his 
female characters are a little too romantic. Never- 
theless, they all give evidence of great observation 
and psychological penetration, so that one may will- 
ingly pardon the author for some improbability in his 
details.” 


(Sup.*) Tuesday, January 23, 1331. 

With the Prince at Goethe’s. His grandchildren 
were amusing themselves with conjuring tricks, in 
which Walter is particularly skilful. “I do not 
object,” said Goethe, **to the boys filling up their 
spare hours with these follies. It is, especially in the 
presence of a small public, an excellent means of exer- 
cise in speaking freely, and acquiring some bodily and 
mental activity, of which we Germans have by no 
means a superabundance. ‘The slight vanity that is 
occasioned is a disadvantage which is certainly over- 
balanced by such a gain.” 

“ Besides, the spectators take care enough to damp 
such feelings,” remarked I, ‘* because they generally 
look very sharply at the little juggler’s fingers, and are 
malicious enough to laugh at his blunders, and to 
mortify him by publishing his little secrets.” 

“ Tt is with them as with actors,” added Goethe ; 
‘“< who are applauded to-day and hissed to-morrow, by 
which means all is kept in the right track.” 


Wednesday, February 9, 1831. 
Yesterday I continued reading Voss’s ‘ Luise” 
with the Prince, and made to myself several remarks 
on the subject of that book. The great merits of 


330 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


the author in depicting the locality, and the external 
circumstances of the persons, delighted me; still, it 
appeared to me that the poem should have had 
a more lofty import,—and this remark especially 
occurred to me in those passages where, the persons 
express their sentiments in dialogue. In the ‘ Vicar 
of Wakefield” there is also a country pastor with his 
family, but the poet had a higher knowledge of the 
world, and this was communicated to his personages, 
all of whom exhibit greater mental variety. In the 
“ Luise” all stand on the level of a narrow cultiva- 
tion, though there is sufficient to satisfy thoroughly a 
certain class of readers. As for the verse, it seems 
to me that the hexameter is far too pretentious for 
such narrow subjects, and is, moreover, often a 
little forced and affected, and that the periods do 
not always flow naturally enough to be read with 
ease. 

To-day, at dinner, I talked over this point with 
Goethe. ‘ The earlier editions of the poem,” said 
he, “‘ are far better in that respect, and I remember 
that I read it aloud with pleasure. Afterwards Voss 
touched it up a great deal, and, from his technical 

‘crotchets, spoiled the ease and nature of the verse. 
.. Indeed, now-a-days technicalities are everything, and 
the critics begin to torment themselves,—whether in a 
rhyme an S should be followed by an S, and not an S 
by a ‘double S.’ If I were young and bold enough, 
I would purposely offend against all these technical 
whims; I would employ alliteration, assonance, false 
rhyme, and anything else that came into my head, but 
I would keep the main point in view, and endeavour 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 331 


to say such good things that every one would be tempted 
to read them and to learn them by heart.” . 


Friday, February 11, 1831. 

To-day, at dinner, Goethe told me that he had begun 
the fourth act of ‘* Faust,” and thus intended to pro- 
ceed, which pleased me highly. He then spoke with 
great praise of Carl Schéne, a young philologist of 
Leipsic, who had written a work on the costume in 
the tragedies of Euripides, and who, notwithstanding 
his great learning, had displayed no more. of it than 
was necessary for his purpose. 

“I like to see,” said Goethe, ‘* how, with a pro- 
ductive sense, he goes to the point at once, while other 
modern philologists give themselves far too much 
trouble about technicalities, and long and short syl- 
lables. 

“Tt is always a sign that a time is unproductive 
when it goes so much into technical minutie ; and 
thus also it is a sign that an individual is unproductive 
when he occupies himself in a like manner. 

“* Then there are other faults which act as impedi- 
ments. ‘Thus, for instance, in Count Platen there are 
nearly all the chief requisites of a good poet ;—imagi- 
nation, invention, intéllect, and productiveness, he 
possesses in a high degree; he also shows a thoroughly 
technical cultivation, and a study and earnestness, to be 
found in few others. With him, however, his un- 
happy polemical tendency is a hindrance. 

“ That amid the grandeur of Naples and Rome he 
could not forget the miserable trivialities of German 
literature, is unpardonable in so eminent a talent. 


332 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


The ‘* Romantic Qédipus’ shows that, especially 
with regard to technicalities, Platen was just the 
man to write the best German tragedy; but now, 
in this piece, he has used the tragic motives for pur- 
poses of parody, how will he write a tragedy in good 
earnest ? 

*¢ And then (what is not enough kept in mind) these 
quarrels occupy the thoughts; the images of our foes 
are like ghosts which intercept all free production, and 
cause great disorder in a nature already sufficiently 
susceptible. 

Lord Byron was ruined by his polemic tendency ; 
and Platen should, for the honour of German litera- 
ture, quit for ever so unprofitable a path.” 


Saturday, February 12, 1831. 

I have been reading the New Testament, and 
thinking of a picture which Goethe lately showed me, 
where Christ is walking on the water, and Peter 
coming towards him, on the waves, begins to sink, 
in a moment of faint-heartedness. 

“¢ ‘This,”’ said Goethe, *‘ is one of the most beautiful 
legends, and one which I love better than any. It 
expresses the noble doctrine that man, through faith 
and hearty courage, will come off victor in the most 
difficult enterprises, while he may be ruined by the 
least paroxysm of doubt.” 


Sunday, February 13, 1831. 
Dined with Goethe. He told me that he was 
going on with the fourth act of ‘* Faust,” and had 
succeeded to his wish in the beginning. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 333 


“ T had,” said he, ** long since the what, as you 
know, but was not quite satisfied about the how ; 
hence it is the more pleasant that good thoughts have 
come to me. 

“ ] will now go on inventing, to supply the whole gap, 
from the ‘ Helena’ to the fifth act, which is finished, 
and write down a detailed plan, that I may work with 
perfect comfort and security on those parts which first 
attract me. 

“ This act acquires quite a peculiar character, so 
that, like an independent little world, it does not 
touch the rest, and is only connected with the whole 
by a slight reference to what precedes and follows.” 

“ It will then,” said I, ‘* be perfectly in character 
with the rest; for, in fact, Auerbach’s cellar, the 
witches’ kitchen, the Blocksberg, the imperial diet, 
the masquerade, the paper-money, the laboratory, the 
classic Walpurgis-night, the Helena, are all of them 
little independent worlds, which, each being complete 
in itself, do indeed work upon each other, yet come but 
little in contact. The great point with the poet is to 
express a manifold world, and he uses the story of a 
celebrated hero merely as a sort of thread on which he 
may string what he pleases. ‘This is the case with 
‘Gil Blas’ and the * Odyssey.’ ” 

“You are perfectly right,” said Goethe; ‘ and 
the only matter of importance in such compositions 
is, that the single masses should be clear and signi- 
ficant, while the whole always remains incommen- 
surable,—and even on that account, like an unsolved 
problem, constantly lures mankind to study it again 
and again.” 


‘ 


334 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


I then spoke of a letter from a young soldier, whom 
I and other friends had advised to go into foreign 
service, and who now, not being pleased with his 
situation abroad, blames all those who advised him.” 

“ Advice is a strange matter,” said Goethe, ‘¢ and 
when one has looked about one in the world long 
enough, to see how the most judicious enterprises fail, 
and the most absurd often succeed, one becomes 
disinclined to give advice to any one. At bottom, too, 
there is a confinement with respect to him who asks 
advice, and a presumption in him who gives it.. A 
person should only give advice in matters where he 
himself will co-operate. If any one asks me for good 
advice, I say I am ready to give it, but only on con- 
dition that he will promise me not to take it.” 

The conversation turned on the New Testament, 
and I mentioned that I had been reading again the 
passage where Christ walks on the sea, and Peter 
meets him. 

** When one has not for some time read the Evan- 
gelists,”’ said I, ‘* one is always astonished at the moral 
grandeur of the figures. We find in the lofty demands 
made upon our moral power of will a sort of cate- 
gorical imperative.” 

“ Especially,” said Goethe, ‘‘you find the cate- 
gorical imperative of faith, which, indeed, Mahomet 
carried still farther.” 

“ Altogether,” said I, ‘* the Evangelists, if you look 
closely into them, are full of differences and contradic- 
tions; and the books must have gone through strange 
revolutions of destiny before they were brought to- 
gether in the form in which we have them now.” 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 335 


“Tt is like trying to drink out a sea,” said Goethe, 
‘€ to enter into an historical and critical examination of 
them. It is the best way, without farther ado, to 
adhere to that which is set down, and to appropriate to 
oneself so much as one can use for one’s moral 
strengthening and culture. However, it is pleasant to 
get a clear notion of the localities, and I can recom- 
mend to you nothing better than RG6hr’s admirable 
book on Palestine. ‘The late Grand-Duke was so 
pleased with this book, that he bought it twice, giving 
the first copy to the library, after he had read it, and 
keeping the other always by him.” 

I wondered that the Grand-Duke should take an 
interest in such matters. 

“ Therein,” said Goethe, “ he was great. He was 
interested in everything of any importance, in what- 
soever department it lay. He was always progressive, 
and sought to domesticate with himself all the good 
inventions and institutions of his time. If anything 
failed, he spoke of it no more. I often thought how I 
should excuse to him this or that failure; but he 
always ignored it in the cheerfulest way, and was 
immediately engaged with some new plan. ‘This was 
a greatness peculiar to his own nature; not acquired, 
but innate.” 

We looked, after dinner, at some engravings after 
the most modern artists, especially in the landscape 
department, and we remarked with pleasure that 
nothing false could be detected. 

“For ages there has been so much good in the 
world,” said Goethe, ‘ that one ought not in reason to 
wonder when it operates and produces good in its turn.” 


336 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


“The worst of it is,’ said I, ‘“‘ that there are so 
many false doctrines, and that a young talent does not 
know to what saint he should devote himself.” 

“¢ Of this we have proofs,”’ said Goethe; ‘‘ we have 
seen whole generations ruined or injured by false 
maxims, and have also suffered ourselves. Then there 
is the facility now-a-days of universally diffusing every 
error by means of printing. ‘Though a critic may 
think better after some years, and diffuse among the 
public his better convictions, his false doctrine has 
operated in the mean while, and will in future, like a 
spreading weed, coritinue to co-operate with what is 
good. My only consolation is, that a really great 
talent is not to be led astray or spoiled.” 

We looked further at the engravings. ‘ These are 
really good things,” said Goethe. ‘* You have before 
you the works of very fair talents, who have learned 
something, and have acquired no little taste and art. 
Still, something is wanting in all these pictures—the 
Manly. Take notice of this word, and underscore 
it. The pictures lack a certain urgent power, which 
in former ages was generally expressed, but in which 
the present age is deficient, and that with respect not 
only to painting, but to all the other arts. We have a 
more weakly race, of which we cannot say whether it 
is so by its origin, or by a more weakly training and 
diet.”” 

“< We see here,” said I, ‘* how much in art depends 
on a great personality,* which indeed was common 


* & Personality,” which is used here and elsewhere as an equivalent for 
« personalitat,” is not 4 common expression, but its meaning will be 
obvious.— Trans. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 337 


enough in earlier ages. When, at Venice, we stand 
before the works of Titian and Paul Veronese, we feel 
the powerful mind of these men, both in their first 
conception of the subject, and in the final execution. 
Their great energetic feeling has penetrated the mem- 
bers of the whole picture, and this higher power of the 
artist’s personality expands our own nature, and elevates 
us above ourselves, when we contemplate such works. 
This manly mind of which you speak is also to be 
found especially in the landscapes of Rubens. They, 
indeed, consist merely of trees, soil, water, rocks, and 
clouds, but his own bold temperament has penetrated 
into the forms, and thus while we see familiar nature 
we see it penetrated by the power of the artist, and 
reproduced according to his views.” 

“« Certainly,” said Goethe, “ personality is every- 
thing in art and poetry ; nevertheless, there are many 
weak personages among the modern critics who do not 
admit this, but look upon a great personality in a work 
of poetry or art merely as a kind of trifling appendage. 

“< However, to feel and respect a great personality 
one must be something oneself. All those who denied 
the sublime to Euripides, were either poor wretches 
incapable of comprehending such sublimity, or shame- 
less charlatans, who, by their presumption, wished to 
make more of themselves, and really did make more of 
themselves than they were.” 


Monday, February 14, 1831. 
Dined with Goethe. He had been reading the 
memoirs of General Rapp, through which the conver- 
sation turned upon Napoleon, and the feelings which 
VOL. II. Zz 


338 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


must necessarily have been experienced by Madame 
Letitia at finding herself the mother of so powerful a 
family. She had given birth to Napoleon, her second 
son, when she was eighteen years old, and her husband 
three-and-twenty, so that he had a physical advantage 
in the youthful strength of his parents. After him she 
bore three sons, all remarkably endowed, clever and 
energetic in practical things, and all with a certain 
poetical talent. ‘These four sons are followed by three 
daughters, and last of all comes Jerome, who seems to 
have been the least endowed of all. 

Talent is indeed not hereditary, but it requires an apt 
physical substratum, and then it is by no means indif- 
ferent whether one is the first or the last born, nor 
whether one is the issue of strong and young, or weak 
and old parents. 

‘© It is remarkable,” said I, ‘* that, of all talents, 
the musical shows itself earliest; so that Mozart 
in his fifth, Beethoven in his eighth, and Hummel 
in his ninth year, astonished all near them by their 
performance and compositions.” 

‘* The musical talent,” said Goethe, ‘* may well 
show itself earliest of any; for music is something 
innate and internal, which needs little nourishment 
from without, and no experience drawn from life. 
Really, however, a phenomenon like that of Mozart 
remains an inexplicable prodigy. But how would the 
Divinity find every where opportunity to do wonders, 
if he did not sometimes try his powers on extraordinary 
individuals, at whom we stand astonished, and cannot 
understand whence they come?” 





1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 339 


Tuesday, February 15, 1831. 

Dined with Goethe. I told him about the theatre ; 
he praised the piece given yesterday—* Henry III.,” 
by Dumas—as very excellent, but naturally found that 
such a dish would not suit the public, 

‘¢ T should not,” said he, ‘¢ have ventured to give it, 
when I was director; for I remember well what 
trouble we had to smuggle upon the public the ‘ Con- 
stant Prince,’* which has far more general human 
interest, is more poetic, and in fact lies much nearer to 
us, than ‘ Henry III.’ ” 

I spoke of the ‘“* Grand Cophta,” which I had been 
lately re-perusing. I talked over the scenes one by 
one, and, at last, expressed a wish to see it once on 
the stage. 

“< T am pleased,” said Goethe, “ that you like that 
piece, and find out what I have worked into it. It 
was indeed no little labour to make an entirely real 
fact first poetical, and then theatrical. And yet you 
will grant that the whole is properly conceived for the 
stage. Schiller was, also, very partial to it; and we 
gave it once, with brilliant effect, for the higher order 
of persons. But it is not for the public in general; 
the crimes of which it treats have about them an 
apprehensive character, which produces an uncom- 
fortable feeling in the people. Its bold character 
places it, indeed, in the sphere of ‘ Clara Gazul ;’ and 
the French poet might really envy me for taking from 
him so good a subject. I say so good a subject, because 
it is in truth not merely of moral, but also of great 


* © Tl Principe Constante,” by Calderon.—Trans, 
Z2 


340 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


historical significance; the fact immediately preceded 
the French Revolution, and was, to a certain extent, 
its foundation. The Queen, through being implicated 
in that unlucky story of the necklace, lost her dignity, 
and was no longer respected, so that she lost, in the 
eyes of the people, the ground where she was unassail- 
able. Hate injures no one; it is contempt that casts 
men down. Kotzebue had been hated long; but 
before the student dared to use his dagger upon him, 
it was necessary for certain journals to make him con- 
temptible.” 
Thursday, February 17, 1831. 

Dined with Goethe. I brought him his “ Resi- 
dence at Carlsbad,” for the year 1807, which I had 
finished revising that morning. We spoke of wise pas- 
sages, which occur there as hasty remarks of the day. 

“ People always fancy,’’ said Goethe, laughing, 
“‘ that we must become old to become wise; but, in 
truth, as years advance, it is hard to keep ourselves as 
wise as we were. Man becomes, indeed, in the 
different stages of his life, a different being; but he 
cannot say that he is a better one, and, in certain 
matters, he is as likely to be right in his twentieth, as 
in his sixtieth year. 

“¢ We see the world one way from a plain, another 
way from the heights of a promontory, another from 
the glacier fields of the primary mountains. We see, 
from one of these points, a larger piece of world than 
from the other ; but that is all, and we cannot say that 
we see more truly from any one than from the rest. 
‘When a writer leaves monuments on the different steps 
of his life, it is chiefly important that he should have 


CW ae 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 341 


an innate foundation and good-will; that he should, at 
each step, have seen and felt clearly, and that, without 
any secondary aims, he should have said distinctly and 
truly what has passed in his mind. Then will his 
writings, if they were right at the step where they 
originated, remain always right, however the writer 
may develop or alter himself in after times.” 

I heartily assented to this excellent remark, 

“ Lately,” continued Goethe, “I found a piece of 
waste paper which I read. ‘ Humph,’ said I to 
myself, ‘ what is written there is not so bad ; you do 
not think otherwise, and would not have expressed 
yourself very differently.’ But when I looked closely 
at the leaf, it was a fragment from my own works. 
For, as I am always striving onwards, I forget what 
I have written, and soon regard my productions as 
something quite foreign.” 

I asked about ‘ Faust,’ and what progress he had 
made with it. 

“ That,” said Goethe, “ will not again let me 
loose. I daily think and invent more and more of 
it. I have now had the whole manuscript of the 
second part stitched together, that it may lie a palpable 
mass before me. The place of the yet wanting 
fourth act I have filled with white paper; and, un- 
doubtedly, what is finished will allure and urge me to 
complete what has yet to be done. There is more 
than people think in these matters of sense, and we 
must aid the spiritual by all manner of devices.” 

He sent for the stitched ‘ Faust,” and I was sur- 
prised to see how much he had written ; for a good 
folio volume was before me, 


342 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


“¢ And all,” said I, ‘* has been done in the six years 
that I have been here; and yet, amid so many other 
occupations, you could have devoted but little time to 
it. We see how much a work grows, even if we 
only now and then add something !” 

“¢ Of that one is still more convinced as one grows 
older,” said Goethe ; * while youth believes all must 
be done in a single day. If fortune favour, and I 
continue in good health, I hope in the next spring- 
months to get a great way on with the fourth act. It 
was, as you know, long since invented; but the 
other parts have, in the course of the execution, 
grown so much, that I can now use only the out- 
line of my first invention, and must fill out this intro- 
duced portion so as to make it of a piece with the 
rest.” 

“¢ A far richer world is displayed,” said I, ‘ in this 
second part than in the first.” 

“© T should think so,” said Goethe. ‘ The first 
part is almost entirely subjective ; it proceeded entirely 
from a perplexed, impassioned individual, and his semi- 
darkness is probably highly pleasing to mankind. But, 
in the second part, there is scarcely any thing of the 
subjective; here is seen a higher, broader, clearer, 
more passionless world, and he who has not looked 
about him and had some experience, will not know 
what to make of it.” 

“ There will be found exercise for thought,” said 
I; ‘* some learning may also be needful. I am glad 
that I have read Schelling’s little book on the Cabiri, 
and that I now know the drift of that famous passage 
in the Walpurgis-night.” . 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 343 


“IT have always found,” said Goethe, laughing, 
‘* that it is well to know something.” 


Friday, February 18, 1831. 

Dined with Goethe. We talked of different forms 
of government ; and it was remarked what difficulties 
an excess of liberalism presents, inasmuch as it calls 
forth the demands of individuals, and, from the quan- 
tity of wishes, one does not know which to satisfy. 
It will be found that one cannot succeed in the long 
run with over-great goodness, mildness, and moral 
delicacy, while one has beneath a mixed and sometimes 
vicious world to manage and hold in respect. 

It was also remarked that the art of governing is 
a great metier, requiring the whole man, and that it 
is therefore not well for a ruler to have too strong 
tendencies for other affairs, as, for instance, a predo- 
minant inclination for the fine arts; since thus not 
only the interest of the Prince, but also the powers 
of the State must be withdrawn from more necessary 
matters. A predominating love for the fine arts better 
suits rich private persons. 

Goethe told me that his ‘* Metamorphosis of 
Plants,” with Soret’s translation, was going on well, 
and that, in his supplementary labours on these sub- 
jects, particularly on the ‘ Spiral,” quite unexpected 
favourable things had come to his aid from with- 
out. 

“We have,” said he, ‘‘ as you know, been busy 
with this translation for more than a year ; a thousand 
hindrances have come in our way; the enterprise has 
often come to an absolute stand-still, and I have often 


344 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


cursed it in silence. But nowI can do reverence to 
all these hindrances; for during these delays things 
have ripened abroad among other excellent men, so 
that they now bring the best grist to my mill, advance 
me beyond all conception, and will bring my work to a 
conclusion which I could not have imagined a year 
ago. ‘The like has often happened to me in life; and, 
in such cases, one is led to believe in a higher 
influence, in something demonic (ddmonisch), which 
we adore without trying to explain it further.” 


Saturday, February 19, 1831. 

Dined at Goethe’s, with Hofrath Vogel. A pam- 
phlet on the island of Heligoland had been sent to 
Goethe, which he read with great interest, telling us 
what he found most important in it. 

After we had talked about this very peculiar locality, 
conversation took a medical turn, and Vogel told us, 
as the news of the day, how the natural small-pox, in 
defiance of all inoculation, had again broken out in 
Eisenach, and had carried off many in a short time. 

“¢ Nature,” said Vogel, “ plays us a trick every 
now and then ; and we must watch her very closely, if 
our theory is to keep pace with her. Inoculation 
was thought so sure and infallible, that a law was made 
to enforce it. But now this Eisenach affair, where the 
persons who have been inoculated are nevertheless 
attacked by the natural small pox, casts a suspicion on 
the infallibility of the remedy, and weakens the motive 
for observing the law.” 

** Nevertheless,” said Goethe, “I am against any 
departure from the strict law for inoculation, since 


1831. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 345 


these trifling exceptions are nothing in comparison 
with the great benefits which it confers.” 

“TI am of the same opinion,” said Vogel, ‘ and 
would even maintain that in all cases where the 
natural disease is not prevented by the artificial one, 
the inoculation has been imperfect. For inoculation 
to have a protective power it must be strong enough 
to produce fever. Mere irritation of the skin without 
fever will not suffice. I have this day proposed in 
council that a stronger inoculation for the small pox 
shall be incumbent on all the parties throughout the 
country who have to perform it.” 

*<] hope that your proposal has been carried,” said 
Goethe. ‘Indeed I am always for a rigid adherence 
to a law, especially at a time like ours, when out of 
weakness and excessive liberality one is always conced- 
ing too much.” 

It was then remarked that we were beginning to be 
too gentle and lax with regard to the responsibility of 
criminals, and that medical testimony and opinion often 
had the effect of making the criminal evade the penalty 
he had incurred. On this occasion V ogel praised a young 
physician, who had always shown strength of character 
in such cases, and who lately, when the court was in 
doubt whether a certain infanticide was responsible or 
not, had given his testimony that she unquestionably 
was SO, 

Sunday, February 20, 1831. 

Dined with Goethe. He told me that he had tested 
my observation on the blue shadows in the snow, viz. 
that they were produced by the reflection of the blue 
sky, and that he acknowledged its correctness, ‘* But 


346 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831 


both causes may, however, co-operate.” said he, ‘* and 
the demand (Forderung) excited by the yellowish light 
may strengthen the appearance of the blue.” This I 
willingly conceded, and rejoiced that Goethe at last 
agreed with me. 

“‘T am sorry,” said I, ‘that I did not on the spot 
write down the observations on colour which I made 
at Mont Rosa and Mont Blanc. The chief result, 
however, was, that at a distance of from eighteen to 
twenty miles, in the brightest noonday sun, the snow 
appeared yellow and even reddish, while the dark parts 
of the mountains, which were free from snow, stood 
out in the most decided blue. This phenomenon did 
not surprise me, as I could have predicted that the 
semi-transparent mass which intervened would give a 
deep yellow tone to the white snow as it reflected the 
noonday sun; but, nevertheless, it pleased me, inas- 
much as it fully confuted the erroneous opinion of 
some scientific persons, that the air has the property of 
giving a blue colour. For if the air had been blue of 
itself, the snow, for a space of twenty miles—that is to 
say, the distance between me and Mont Rosa—must 
have appeared bright blue, or a whitish blue, and not 
yellow and a yellowish red.” 

“This observation,” said Goethe, “is important, 
and completely confutes every error.” 

“In fact,” said I, “the doctrine of the dense 
medium is so simple that one is easily misled into the 
belief that it can be communicated to another in a few 
days. ‘The difficulty is to apply the law, and to recog- 
nise a primitive phenomenon in phenomena that are 
conditioned and concealed a thousand different ways.” 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 347 


“©T would compare it to whist,” said Goethe, “ the 
laws and rules of which are very easy to teach, but 
which one must have played a long time before one 
can become a master. Altogether we learn nothing 
from mere hearing, and he who does not take an active 
part in certain subjects knows them but half and super- 
ficially.”” 

Goethe then told me of the book of a young natural 
philosopher, which he could not help praising, on 
account of the clearness of his descriptions, while he 
pardoned him for his teleological tendency. 

“Tt is natural to man,” said Goethe, “to regard 
himself as the final cause of creation, and to consider 
all other things merely in relation to himself so far as 
they are of use to him. He makes himself master of 
the vegetable and animal world, and while he claims 
other creatures as a fitting diet, he acknowledges his 
God, and praises His goodness in this paternal care. 
He takes milk from the cow, honey from the bee, 
wool from the sheep ; and while he gives these things a 
purpose which is useful to himself, he believes that 
they were made on that account. Nay, he cannot 
conceive that even the smallest herb was not made for 
him, and if he has not yet ascertained its utility, he 
believes that he may discover it in future. 

“Then, too, as man thinks in general, so does he 
always think in particular, and he does not fail to 
transfer his ordinary views from life into science, and 
to ask the use and purpose of every single part of our 
organic being. 

“ This may do for a time, and he may get on so for 
a time in science, but he will soon come to phenomena, 


348 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


where this small view will not be sufficient, and where, 
if he does not take a higher stand, he will soon be 
involved in mere contradictions, 

“The utility-teachers say that oxen have horns to 
defend themselves ; but I ask, why is the sheep with- 
out any—and when it has them, why are they twisted 
about the ears so as to answer no purpose at all ? 

‘¢ Tf, on the other hand, I say the ox defends himself 
with his horns because he has them, it is quite a dif- 
ferent matter. 

“The question as to the purpose—the question 
Wherefore is completely unscientific. But we get on 
farther with the question How? For if I ask how has 
the ox horns, I am led to study his organization, and 
learn at the same time why the lion has no horns, and 
cannot have any. | 

“Thus, man has in his skull two hollows which 
are never filled up. The question wherefore could not 
take us far in this case, but the question how informs 
me that these hollows are remains of the animal skull, 
which are found on a larger scale in inferior organiza- 
tion, and are not quite obliterated in man, with all his 
eminence. 

“The teachers of utility would think that they 
lost their God if they did not worship Him who gave 
the ox horns to defend itself. But I hope I may be 
allowed to worship Him who, in the abundance of His 
creation, was great enough, after making a thousand 
kinds of plants, to make one more, in which all the rest 
should be comprised; and after a thousand kinds of 
animals, a being which comprises them all—man. 

“‘ Let people serve Him who gives to the beast his 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 349 


fodder, and to man meat and drink as much as he can 
enjoy. But I worship Him who has infused into the 
world such a power of production, that, when only 
the millionth part of it comes out into life, the world 
swarms with creatures to such a degree that war, 
pestilence, fire, and water cannot prevail against them. 
That is my God !” 
Monday, February 21, 1831. 

Goethe praised Schelling’s last discourse, with which 
he had calmed the students at Munich. 

“Tt is thoroughly good,” said he; ‘* and we rejoice 
once again at the distinguished talent which we have 
long known and revered. In this case he had an 
excellent subject and a worthy purpose, and his success 
has been as great as possible. If the same could be 
said of the subject and purpose of his work on the 
Cabiri, that would claim praise from us also, since there 
also he has displayed in it his rhetorical talent and art.” 

Schelling’s ‘¢ Cabiri” brought the conversation to the 
classic Walpurgis-night, and the difference between 
this and the scenes on the Brocken in the first part. 

“ The old Walpurgis-night,” said Goethe, “ is mon- 
archical, since the devil is there respected throughout 
as a decided chief. But the classic Walpurgis-night is 
thoroughly republican ; since all stand on a plain near 
one another, so that each is as prominent as his asso- 
ciates, and nobody is subordinate or troubled about the 
rest.” 

“ Moreover,” said I, “in the classic assembly all 
are sharply outlined individualities, while, on the Ger- 
man Blocksberg, each individuality is lost in the general 
witch-mass.”’ 


350 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


“ Therefore,” said Goethe, ‘* Mephistophiles knows 
what is meant when the Homunculus speaks to him of 
Thessalian witches. A connoisseur of antiquity will 
have something suggested by these words (‘Thessalian 
witches), while to the unlearned it remains a mere 
name.” 

“« Antiquity,” said I, “ must be very living to you, 
else you could not make all these figures step so freshly 
into life, and treat them with such freedom as you 
have.” 

*¢ Without a life-long occupation with plastic art,’’ 
said Goethe, ‘ it would not have been possible to me. 
The difficulty was in observing due moderation amid 
such plenty, and avoiding all figures that did not perfectly 
fit into my plan. I made, for instance, no use of the 
Minotaur, the Harpies, and certain other monsters.” 

‘¢ But what you have exhibited in that night,” said 
I, “‘ is so grouped, and fits so well together, that it 
can be easily recalled by the imagination and made into 
a picture. The painters will certainly not allow such 
good subjects to escape them ; and I especially hope 
to see Mephistophiles among the Phorcyades, when he 
tries the famous mask in profile.” 

“ There are a few pleasantries there,” said Goethe, 
*€ which will more or less occupy the world in all sorts 
of ways. Suppose the French are the first to perceive 
© Helena,’ and to see what can be done with it for the 
stage. ‘They will spoil the piece as it is, but they will 
make a wise use of it for their own purposes, and that 
is all we can expect or desire. ‘To Phorcyas they will 
certainly add a chorus of monsters, as is indeed already 
indicated in one passage.”” 


* — 


1831. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 351 


“* Tt would be a great matter,” said I, “ if a clever 
part of the romantic school treated the piece as an 
opera throughout, and Rossini collected all his great 
talent for a grand composition, to produce an effect 
with the ‘ Helena.’ It affords opportunities for mag- 
nificent scenes, surprising transformations, brilliant cos- 
tumes and charming ballets, which are not easily to 
be found elsewhere, to say nothing of the fact that 
this abundance of sensible material rests on the foun- 
dation of an ingenious fable that could scarcely be 
excelled.” 

“ We will wait for what the gods bring us,” said 
Goethe, “* such things are not to be hurried. The 
great matter is for people to enter into it, and for 
managers, poets, and composers to see their advantage 
in it.” 

Tuesday, February 22, 1831. 

Upper-Consistorial Counsellor Schwabe met me in 
the street. I walked with him a little way; he told 
me of his manifold occupations, and thus I was 
enabled to look into the important sphere of action 
of this distinguished man. He said that he em- 
ployed his spare hours in editing a little volume of 
new sermons ; that one of his school-books had lately 
been translated into Danish, that forty thousand copies 
of it had been sold, and that it had been introduced 
into the best schools of Prussia. He begged me to 
visit him, which I gladly promised to do. 

At dinner with Goethe, I spoke of Schwabe, and 
Goethe agreed entirely with my praises of him. 

“The Grand-Duchess,” said he, ‘‘ values him 
highly ; and, indeed, she always knows what people 


352 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


are worth. I shall have him drawn for my collection 
of portraits, and you will do well to visit him, and ask 
his permission in this respect. 

“¢ Visit him, and show sympathy in what he is doing 
and planning. It will be interesting for you to observe 
a peculiar sphere of action, which cannot be rightly 
understood without a closer intercourse with such a 


man.” 


Wednesday, February 23, 1831. 

Before dinner, while walking in the Erfurt road, I 
met Goethe, who stopped me and took me into his 
carriage. We went a good way by the fir-wood, and 
talked about natural history. 

The mountains and hills were covered with snow, 
and I mentioned the great delicacy of the yellow, 
observing that at a distance of nine miles, with some 
density intervening, a dark surface rather appeared 
blue than a white one yellow. Goethe agreed with 
me, and we then spoke of the high significance of the 
primitive phenomena, behind which we believe the 
Deity may directly be discerned. 

“I ask not,” said Goethe, ‘* whether this highest 
Being has reason and understanding, but I feel that He 
is Reason, is Understanding itself. “Therewith are all 
creatures penetrated ; and man has so much of it that 
he can recognise parts of the Highest.” 

At table, the efforts of certain inquirers into nature 
were mentioned, who, to penetrate the organic rales. 
would ascend through mineralogy. 

“ This,” said Goethe, “is a great mistake. In 
the mineralogical world the simplest, in the organic 
world the most complex, is the most excellent. We 








aes. + 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 353 


see, too, that these two worlds have quite different 
tendencies, and that a stepwise progress from one to 
the other is by no means to be found.” 

I treasured this remark as of great importance. 


Thursday, February 24, 1831. 

I read Goethe’s essay on Zahn in the Viennese 
Jahrbiicher, and was filled with admiration when I 
thought of the premises which the writing of it pre- 
supposed. 

At dinner Goethe told me that Soret had been with 
him, and that they had made good progress with the 
translation of the Metamorphosis. 

“ The difficulty in nature,” said Goethe, “is to 
see the law where it is concealed from us, and not to 
be misled by phenomena which contradict our senses. 
For in nature there is much which contradicts our 
senses, and is nevertheless true. ‘That the sun stands 
still, that he does not rise and set, but that the earth 
performs a diurnal revolution with incredible swiftness, 
contradicts the senses as much as anything, but yet no 
well-informed person doubts that this is the case. 
Thus, too, there are in the vegetable kingdom con- 
tradictory phenomena, with which we must be very 
careful not to be led into false ways.” 


Saturday, February 26, 1831. 


To-day I read a great deal of Goethe’s “* Theory of 
Colours,” and was pleased to find that, by frequently 
exercising myself on the phenomena, I had become 
sufficiently master of the work to feel its great merits 
with some degree of clearness. I thought, with 

VOL. II. AA 


354 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


admiration, what it must have cost to put such a work 
together, since I observed not merely the final results, 
but looked deeper, and saw what must have been gone 
through that these firm results might be attained. 

Only a man of great moral power could accomplish 
this, and whoever would imitate him must take a very 
high position. All that is indelicate, untrue, egotisti- 
cal, must vanish from the mind, or real true nature 
must scorn him. If men considered this, they would 
willingly devote some years of their life to master the 
sphere of such a science in such a manner, that they 
might thus test their senses, intellect, and character. 
They would have respect for all that is according to 
law, and approach the Deity as closely as it is possible 
for a terrestrial mind. 

On the contrary, people occupy themselves too 
much with poetry, and supersensuous mysteries, which 
are subjective, pliable things, making no further claims 
on man, but flattering him, and, at best, leaving him 
just where he was. 

In poetry, only the really great and pure advances 
us ; and this exists as a second nature, either elevating 
us to itself or rejecting us. On the other hand, 
defective poetry developes our faults, inasmuch as we 
take into ourselves the infectious weaknesses of the 
poet. Yes, take them in, without knowing it, be- 
cause we cannot perceive a defect in that which is 
consonant to our nature. 

To draw advantage from both the good and the bad 
in poetry, we must already be in a very high position, 
and have such a foundation that we can regard. things 
of the sort as objects external to ourselves. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 355 


Hence I commend an intercourse with nature, who 
in no wise favours our weaknesses, but either makes 
something out of us, or will have nothing at all to do 
with us. 

Monday, February 28, 1831. 

I have been occupied all day with the manuscript of 
the fourth volume of Goethe’s life, which he sent me 
yesterday, that I might see if anything remained to be 
done. I am very happy with this work, when I 
reflect what it already is, and what it may become. 
Some books appear quite complete, and leave nothing 
to desire. In others, on the contrary, a certain want 
of congruity may be observed, which may have arisen 
from the fact that the author has worked at very 
different epochs. 

This fourth volume is altogether very different from 
the three preceding. ‘Those constantly proceed in a cer- 
tain given direction, while the course is through many 
years. In this volume, on the contrary, time seems 
scarcely to move, and we can see no decisive effort on 
the part of the principal character; much is under- 
taken but not completed, much is willed but otherwise 
directed, and thus we everywhere feel the influence 
of a secret power, a kind of destiny, drawing out many 
threads for the web which future years must com- 
plete. 

This volume, therefore, affords a suitable occasion 
to speak of that secret, problematical power, which all 
men feel, which no philosopher explains, and over 
which the religious help themselves with consoling 
words. 

Goethe names this unspeakable world and _life- 

AA2 


356 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


enigma the Demonic (ddmonisch); and, while he 
defines its nature, we feel that so it is, and the curtains 
seem to have been drawn away from before certain 
backgrounds of our life. We seem to see further and 
more clearly, but soon perceive that the object is too 
great and manifold, and that our eyes only reach a 
certain limit. 

Man is born only for the little; only what is 
known to him can be comprehended by him, or give 
him pleasure. A great connoisseur understands a 
picture ; he knows how to combine the various par- 
ticulars into the Universal, which is familiar to him ; 
the whole is, to him, as living as the details. Neither 
does he entertain a predilection for detached portions ; 
he asks not whether a face is ugly or beautiful, 
whether a passage is light or dark, but whether 
everything is in its place, according to law and order. 
But if we show an ignorant man a picture of some 
compass, we shall see that, as a whole, it leaves 
him unmoved or confused; that some parts attract, 
others repel him; and that he at last abides by little 
things which are familiar to him, praising, perhaps, the 
good execution of a helmet or plume. 

But, in fact, we men play more or less the part of 
this ignorant person before the great destiny-picture of 
the world. The lighted part, the Agreeable, attracts 
us, the shadowy and unpleasant parts repel us, the 
whole confuses us, and we vainly seek the idea of a 
single Being to whom we attribute such contradic- 
tions. 

Now, in human things, one may indeed become a 
great connoisseur, inasmuch as one may appropriate to 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 357 


oneself the art and knowledge of a master, but, in 
divine things, this is only possible with a being equal 
to the Highest. Nay, if the Supreme Being attempted 
to reveal such mysteries to us, we should not under- 
stand them or know what to do with them ; but again 
resemble that ignoramus before the picture, to whom 
the connoisseur cannot by all the talking in the world 
impart the premises on which he judges. On this 
account it is quite right that forms of religion have not 
been given directly by God himself, but, as the work 
of eminent men, have been conformed to the wants 
and the understanding of a great mass of their fellows. 
If they were the work of God, no man could under- 
stand them ; but, being the work of men, they do not 
express the Inscrutable. 

The religion of the highly-cultivated ancient Greeks 
went no further than to give separate expressions of 
the Inscrutable by particular Deities. As these indi- 
vidualities were only limited beings, and a gap was 
obvious in the connection of the whole, they invented 
the idea of a Fate, which they placed over all; but as 
this in its turn remained a many-sided Inscrutable, the 
difficulty was rather set aside than disposed of. 

Christ thought of a God, comprising all in one, 
to whom he ascribed all qualities which he found 
excellent in himself. This God was the essence of 
his own beautiful soul ; full of love and goodness, like 
himself; and every way suited to induce good men to 
give themselves up trustingly to him, and to receive 
this Idea, as the sweetest connection with a higher 
sphere. But, as the great Being whom we name the 
Deity manifests himself not only in man, but in a 


358 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1831. 


rich, powerful nature, and in mighty world-events, a 
representation of him, framed from human qualities, 
cannot of course be adequate, and the attentive 
observer will soon come to imperfections and contra- 
dictions, which will drive him to doubt, nay, to 
despair, unless he be either little enough to let himself 
be soothed by an artful evasion, or great enough to 
rise to a higher point of view. 

Such a point Goethe early found in Spinoza; and he 
acknowledges with joy how much the views of that 
great thinker answered the wants of his youth. In 
him he found himself, and in him therefore could he 
fortify himself to the best advantage. 

And as these views were not of the subjective sort, 
but had a foundation in the works and manifestations 
of God through the world, so were they not mere 
husks which he, after his own later, deeper search 
into the world and nature, threw aside as useless, but 
were the first root and germ of a plant that went on 
growing with equally healthy energy for many years, 
and at last unfolded the flower of a rich knowledge. 

His opponents have often accused him of having no 
faith ; but he merely had not theirs, because it was too 
small for him. If he spoke out his own, they would 
be astonished ; but they would not be able to compre- 
hend him. 

But Goethe is far from believing that he knows the 
Highest Being as it is. All his written and oral 
€xpressions intimate that it is somewhat inscrutable, of 
which men can only have approximating perceptions 
and feelings. 

For the rest, nature and we men are all so pene~ 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 359 


trated by the Divine, that it holds us; that we live, 
move, and have our being in it; that we suffer and are 
happy under eternal laws; that we practise these, and 
they are practised on us, whether we recognize them 
or not. 

The child enjoys his cake without knowing any- 
thing of the baker; the sparrow the cherries, without 
thinking how they grew. 


Wednesday, March 2, 1831. 

I dined with Goethe to-day, and the conversation 
soon turning again on the Demonic, he added the 
following remarks to define it more closely. 

“The Demonic,” said he, ‘* is that which cannot 
be explained by Reason or Understanding ; it lies not 
in my nature, but I am subject to it.” 

“¢ Napoleon,”’ said I, ‘* seems to have been of the 
dzmonic sort.” 

*« He was so thoroughly,” said Goethe, “ and in 
the highest degree, so that scarce any one is to be 
compared with him. Our late Grand-Duke, too, was 
a demonic nature, full of unlimited power of action 
and unrest, so that his own dominion was too little for 
him, and the greatest would have been too little. 
Dzmonic beings of such sort the Greeks reckoned 
among their demigods.”” 

“Ts not the Demonic,” said I, ‘perceptible in 
events also?” 

‘¢ Particularly,” said Goethe, ‘ and, indeed, in all 
which we cannot explain by Reason and Understand- 
ing. It manifests itself in the most varied manner 
throughout all nature—in the invisible as in the visible. 


360 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


Many creatures are of a purely demonic kind ; in many 
parts of it are effective.” 

‘*¢ Has not Mephistophiles,” said I, ‘‘ damonic traits, 
too ?” 

*¢ No,” said Goethe, ‘* Mephistophiles is much too 
negative a being. ‘The Demonic manifests itself in a 
thoroughly active power. 

** Among artists,” he continued, ‘“¢ it is found more 
among musicians—less among painters. In Paganini, 
it shows itself in a high degree ; and it is thus he pro- 
duces such great effects.” 

I was much pleased at all these remarks, which 
made more clear to me what Goethe meant by the 
Demonic. 

Thursday, March 3, 1831. 

At noon with Goethe. He was looking through 
some architectural designs, and observed it required 
some courage to build palaces, inasmuch as we are 
never certain how long one stone will remain upon 
another. 

‘*¢ ‘Those are most fortunate,” said he, ‘‘ who live in 
tents, or who, like some Englishmen, are always going 
from one city and one inn to another, and find every- 
where a good table ready.” 

Sunday, March 6, 1831. 

At dinner talked on various subjects with Goethe. 
We spoke of children and their naughty tricks, and he 
compared these to the stem-leaves of a plant, which 
fall away gradually of their own accord; and which 
need not be corrected with great severity. 

‘* Man,” said he, ‘‘ has various stages which he 
must go through, and each brings with it its peculiar 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 361 


virtues and faults, which, in the epoch to which they 
belong, are to be considered natural, and in a manner 
right. On the next. step he is another man ; there is 
no trace left of the earlier virtues or faults ; but others 
have taken their place. And so on to the final trans- 
formation, with respect to which we know not what 
we shall be.” 

After dinner, Goethe read me fragments, which 
he had kept from 1775, of Hanswursts Hochzeit 
(‘* Hanswurst’s wedding”). Kilian Brustfleck opens 
the piece with a monologue, in which he complains 
that Hanswurst’s education, despite all his care, has 
come to no good. This scene, and all the rest, were 
written in the tone of Faust. A productive force, 
powerful even to wantonness, displayed itself in every 
line ; and [ could not but lament that it went so far 
beyond all bounds, that even the fragments cannot be 
communicated. 

Goethe read me the list of the dramatis persona, 
which nearly filled three pages, and were about a 
hundred in number. There were all the nicknames 
imaginable ; some of them so comic and ludicrous, that 
we could not help laughing at them. Many referred 
to bodily defects, and distinguished a figure so that it 
came like life before the eye ; others indicated the most 
various follies and vices, and afforded a deep look into 
the breadth of the immoral world. Had the piece 
been finished, people must have admired the invention 
that could combine such various symbolical figures in 
one single action. 

“It was not to be imagined that I could finish the 
piece,” said Goethe; ‘for it demanded a high degree 


362 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1831. 


of wanton dariug, which I had at moments, but which 
did not in fact lie in the serious tenor of my nature, 
and on which I could not depend. Then in Germany 
our circles are too limited for one to come forward with 
such an undertaking. On a broad ground, like Paris, 
one might venture such eccentricities, just as one can 
there be a Beranger, which would be quite impossible 
at Frankfort or Weimar.” 


Tuesday, March 8, 1831. 

Dined to-day with Goethe, who began by telling me 
that he had been reading ‘* Ivanhoe.” 

“ Walter Scott,” said he, ‘‘ is a great talent ; he has 
not his equal ; and we need not wonder at the extra- 
ordinary effect he produces on the whole reading world. 
He gives me much to think of; and I discover in him 
a wholly new art, with laws of its own.” 

We spoke then of the fourth volume of the bio- 
graphy, and came upon the subject of the Dzmonic 
before we were aware. 

“In poetry,” said Goethe, ‘‘ especially in that which 
is unconscious, before which reason and understanding 
fall short, and which therefore produces effects so far 
surpassing all conception, there is always something 
dzmonic. 

“So is it with music, in the highest degree, for it 
stands so high that no understanding can reach it, and 
an influence flows from it which masters all, and for 
which none can account. Hence, religious worship 
cannot dispense with it; it is one of the chief means of 
working upon men miraculously. Thus the Demonic 
loves to throw itself into significant individuals, espe- 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 363 


cially when they are in high places, like Frederic and 
Peter the Great. 

*¢ Our late Grand-Duke had it to such a degree, that 
nobody could resist him. He had an attractive influ- 
ence upon men by his mere tranquil presence, without 
needing even to show himself good-humoured and 
friendly. All that I undertook by his advice suc- 
ceeded ; so that, in cases where my own understanding 
and reason were insufficient, I needed only to ask him 
what was to be done, when he gave me an answer in- 
stinctively, and I could always be sure of happy results. 

“He would have been enviable indeed if he could 
have possessed himself of my ideas and higher striv- 
ings; for when the demonic spirit forsook him, and 
only the human was left, he knew not how to set to 
work, and was much troubled at it. 

“In Byron, also, this element was probably active 
in a high degree, whence he possessed powers of 
attraction to a great extent, so that women especially 
could not resist him.” 

“Into the idea of the Divine,” said I, by way of 
experiment, ‘‘ this active power which we name the 
Demonic would not seem to enter.” 

“My good friend,” said Goethe, ‘what do we 
know of the idea of the Divine? and what can our 
narrow ideas tell of the Highest Being? Should I, 
like a Turk, name it with a hundred names, I should 
still fall short, and, in comparison with such boundless 
attributes, have said nothing.” 

Wednesday, March 9g, 1831. 

Goethe continued to speak of Sir Walter Scott with 
the highest acknowledgment. 


364 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


‘We read far too many poor things,” said he; 
“thus losing time, and gaining nothing. We should 
only read what we admire, as I did in my youth, and 
as I now experience with Sir Walter Scott. I have 
just begun ‘ Rob Roy,’ and will read his best novels 
in succession. All is great—material, import, charac- 
ters, execution ; and then what infinite diligence in the 
preparatory studies! what truth of detail in the execu- 
tion! We see, too, what English history is; and 
what a thing it is when such an inheritance falls to the 
lot of a clever poet. Our German history, in five 
volumes is, on the other hand, sheer poverty ; so that, 
after ‘ Goetz von Berlichingen,’ writers went im- 
mediately into private life, giving us an ‘ Agnes 
Bernauerin,’ and an ¢ Otto von Wittelsbach,’* which 
was really not much.” 

I said that I had been reading ‘“‘ Daphnis and Chloe,” 
in Courier’s translation. 

“That, also,” said Goethe, ‘‘ is a masterpiece, 
which I have often read and admired, in which Under- 
standing, Art and Taste, appear at their highest point, 
and beside which the good Virgil retreats somewhat 
into the back-ground. The landscape is quite in the 
Poussin style, and appears, behind the personages, 
finished with a very few strokes. 

“You know Courier found, in the Florentine 
Library, a new manuscript, containing the principal 
passage of the poem which was not in the preceding 
editions. Now, I must acknowledge that I have 
always read and admired the poem in its imperfect 


* These are two plays written after the manner of * Gotz”: the first 
is by Count Joseph von Torring; the second, by Francis Babo. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 365 


state, without observing or feeling that the proper apex 
was wanting. But this may be a proof of the excel- 
lence of the poem, since what we possessed satisfied 
us so completely that we never thought of what was 
defieient.” 

" After dinner, Goethe showed me a drawing by 
Coudray, of an extremely tasteful door for the Dorn- 
burg Castle, with a Latin inscription, signifying, that 
he who entered should find friendly reception and 
entertainment, and that to him who passed by a happy 
journey was wished. 

Goethe had translated this inscription into a German 
distich, and placed it as a motto over a letter which he 
had written, in the summer of 1828, after the death of 
the Grand-Duke, during his residence at Dornburg, 
to Colonel von Beulwitz. I had heard much in pub- 
lic of this letter, and was very glad when Goethe 
showed it me to-day, with the drawing of the 
door. 

I read the letter with great interest, admiring the 
skill with which he had used the localities of the Dorn- 
burg castle and the valley below to introduce the 
noblest views—views suited to raise man up after 
sustaining a great loss, and to place him on his feet 
again. 

I was much pleased with this letter, observing that 
one need not travel far in search of good material, 
but that all depends on the aptness of the poet’s mind 
to produce something valuable from the most trifling 
occasions. 

Goethe put the letter and drawing in a portfolio by 
themselves to preserve both for the future. 


366 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


Thursday, March 10, 1831. 

I read to-day, with the Prince, Goethe’s novel of 
the ‘¢ Tiger and the Lion,” * and while he was highly 
pleased at feeling the effect of a great art, I was no 
less so at taking a clear view of a finished composi- 
tion. I felt a certain omnipresence of thought, which 
may have arisen from the fact that the poet cherished 
the subject in his mind for so many years, and thus 
became so completely master of his subject that he 
could survey the whole and the details with the 
greatest clearness, and place every single part just 
where it was wanted, and might prepare and influence 
what was coming. Everything has a relation to what 
is to come and to what has preceded, everything is 
right in its place, so that as a composition we can 
scarcely conceive anything more perfect. As we went 
on reading I felt the strongest wish that Goethe could 
contemplate this gem of a novel as the work of 
another. At the same time, I reflected that there was 
a great advantage in the dimensions of the subject, 
enabling the poet to put all skilfully together, and the 
reader to approach the whole and its details with 
some reason. 


(Sup.*) Thursday, March 10, 1831. 
This morning a short half hour with Goethe. I 
had to bring him the information that the Grand- 
Duchess had determined to bestow the sum of a 
thousand dollars upon the directors of the theatre, to be 
employed in the cultivation of promising young talent. 


* “Die Novelle.”"—Trans. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 367 


This information gave evident pleasure to Goethe, who 
has at heart the further prosperity of the theatre. 

I had then to consult him concerning a commission 
of another kind. It is the intention of the Grand- 
Duchess to invite to Weimar the best German author 
of the present time, provided he is without employ- 
ment or fortune, and merely lives on the fruits of his 
talent, and to provide a sinecure place for him, so that 
he may find leisure to allow all his works to attain 
the utmost perfection, and not be in the piteous case 
of working hastily from necessity, to the prejudice of 
his own talent and of literature. 

“‘ The intention of the Grand-Duchess,” returned 
Goethe, ‘is most princely, and I bow before her noble 
views ; but it will be very difficult to make a proper 
choice. ‘The most distinguished of our present talents 
are already in easy circumstances, through state em- 
ployment, pensions, and their own private resources. 
Besides, every one would not suit here, and every one 
would not be really assisted by coming. I will, how- 
ever, bear the noble design in mind, and see what good 
the next year may bring us.” 

Friday, March 11, 1831. 

At dinner with Goethe, talked on various subjects. 
“It isa peculiarity of Walter Scott’s,” said he, ‘ that 
his great talent in representing details often leads him 
into faults. ‘Thus, in ‘Ivanhoe,’ there is a scene 
where they are seated at a table in a castle-hall, at 
night, and a stranger enters. Now, he is quite right 
in describing the stranger’s appearance and dress, but 
it is a fault that he goes to the length of describing his 
feet, shoes, and stockings. When we sit down in the 


368 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1831. 


evening, and some one comes in, we see only the 
upper part of his body. If I describe the feet, day- 
Jight enters at once, and the scene loses its nocturnal 
character.” 

I felt the force of these words, and noted them 
down for future occasions. 

Goethe then continued to speak with great admira- 
tion of Sir Walter Scott. I requested him to put his 
views on paper, which he refused to do, remarking 
that Scott’s art was so high that it is hard to give 
a public opinion about him. 

Monday, March 14, 1831. 

Dined with Goethe, and talked of several subjects. 
I had to tell him of the “* Dumb Girl of Portici,” which 
had been represented the day before yesterday ; when 
we said that a properly-grounded motive for a revolu- 
tion was not shown at all, and that this very circum- 
stance pleased people, inasmuch as every one could fill 
up the gap with something that was offensive in his 
own city and country, 

“The whole opera,” said Goethe, “is, in fact, a 
satire upon the people, for when it makes a public 
matter of a fisher-girl’s amour, and calls the prince a 
tyrant because he marries a princess, it appears as 
absurd and ridiculous as possible.” 

After dinner Goethe showed me some drawings, 
illustrative of Berlin phrases, in which the liveliest 
subjects were represented, and we praised the modera- 
tion of the artist in approaching caricature, without 


actually going into it. 
Tuesday, March 15, 1831. 


I occupied myself the whole morning with the 





er, ee ee eT 8 4 se 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 369 


manuscript of the fourth volume of “ Truth and 
Poetry,” and wrote the following notes for Goethe :— 

The second, fourth, and fifth books may be deemed 
complete, with the exception of some trifles that can 
easily be settled in a final revision. 

Here followed some remarks on the first and third 
books :— 

FIRST BOOK. 

The narrative of Jung’s failure with the ophthalmic 
operation is so seriously important that it induces deep 
internal reflection; and, if told in society, would 
assuredly occasion a pause in conversation. I there- 
fore suggest that it should terminate the first book, in 
order that a kind of pause may be produced. 

The pretty anecdotes of the fire in the Judengasse 
(Jew’s lane), and the skating in the mother’s red 
velvet cloak, which are now at the end of the first 
book, and are not rightly placed there, should properly 
be connected with the portion which treats of uncon- 
scious, unpremeditated poetic production. For those 
events refer to a similarly happy state of mind, which, 
once in action, does not long think and ask what is to 
be done, but has already acted before the thought 
comes. 

THIRD BOOK. 

According to our plan, this book would comprise 
all that might be dictated respecting the external poli- 
tical condition of 1775, the internal condition of Ger- 
many, the education of the nobility, &c.* 


* The remarks here referred to are in the second book of the fourth 
volume (the 17th of the whole) ; otherwise, Eckermann’s suggestions seem 
to have been followed.—Trans. 


VOL. Il. B B 


370 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


All that belongs to ‘* Hanswurst’s Hochzeit”’ and 
other poetical projects—carried out and not carried 
out—might, if it did not better suit the fourth book, 
which is already very thick, or interrupt the connec- 
tion, which is well observed there, be properly intro- 
duced in the third. 

I have collected all the outlines and fragments for 
this purpose in the third book, and wish all happiness 
and inclination to dictate what is still wanting, with 
fresh spirit and wonted grace. 


Ee 


Dined with the Prince and M. Soret. We talked a 
great deal about Courier, and then about the con- 
clusion of Goethe’s ‘* Novel,’”? when I made the 
remark that in that work import and art stood too high 
for people to know what to make of it. They like to 
hear and see over and over again what they have seen 
and heard already ; and as they are accustomed to find 
the flower Poetry in thoroughly poetical fields, they are 
amazed when they see it springing from a thoroughly 
real soil. In the poetical region people will put up 
with anything, and no wonder is too great for belief; 
but here, in the broad light of real day, they are 
startled by the slightest deviation from the ordinary 
course of things. Being surrounded by a thousand 
wonders to which we are accustomed, we are troubled 
at a single one, which has hitherto been new. Again, 
mankind finds no difficulty in believing the wonders of 
an earlier period, but to give a sort of actuality to a 
wonder that happens to-day, and to know it as a 
higher reality by the side of that which is visibly 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 371 


real,—this does not seem to lie in human capacity, or, 
if it does, it seems to have been expelled by education. 
Our age will hence become more and more prosaic, 
and, with the exception of faith in the supernatural, 
all poetry will gradually disappear. 

As a conclusion to Goethe’s * Novel,” nothing is 
required but the feeling that man is not quite deserted 
by higher beings, but that, on the contrary, they keep 
their eye on him, sympathize with him, and, in case of 
need, come to his assistance. 

There is something so natural in this belief, that it 
belongs to man, is a constituent part of his being, and 
is innate with all nations, as the foundation of all 
religion. In the first human beginnings, it appears 
strong; but it does not yield to the highest culture, so 
that we find it still great in Plato, and, last of all, just 
as brilliant in the author of ‘¢ Daphnis and Chloe.” 
In this charming poem, the Divine operates under the 
form of Pan and the nymphs, who take an interest in 
pious shepherds and lovers, save and protect them in 
the day-time, appear to them in dreams at night, and 
tell them what is to be done. In Goethe’s ‘* Novel,” 
this Invisible Guardian is conceived under the form of 
the Eternal and the Angels, who once, in a den, amid 
fierce lions, guarded the prophet, and who here, in the 
presence of a similar monster, afford their protection 
to a good child. The lion does not tear the boy to 
pieces, but rather appears mild and docile; for those 
higher beings who have been active through all eternity 
participate in the affair. 

But that this may not appear too marvellous to an 
incredulous nineteenth century, the poet makes use of 

BB 2 


372 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


a second powerful motive, namely, that of music, the 
magic power of which has been felt by mankind from 
the earliest times, and by which we allow ourselves 
to be governed every day, without knowing how it 
happens. 

And as Orpheus by this magic drew after him all 
the beasts of the forest, and as in the last Greek poem 
a young shepherd leads goats with his flute, so that 
to different melodies they disperse and assemble, fly 
from the enemy and graze in quiet, so in Goethe’s 
“ Novel” does music exercise its power on the lion, 
inasmuch as the violent beast yields to the melodies of 
the dulcet flute, and follows whithersoever he is led by 
the innocence of the boy. 

When I have spoken with divers people about such 
inexplicable things, I have observed that man is so 
deeply impressed with his excellent qualities, that he 
does not hesitate to endow the gods with them, but 
cannot easily resolve to give a part of them to brutes. 


Wednesday, March 16, 1831. 

Dined with Goethe, to whom I brought back the 
fourth volume of his life, and conversed much about it. 

We also spoke of the conclusion to ‘* William 
Tell,” and I expressed my wonder that Schiller should 
have committed the fault of lowering his hero by his 
unworthy conduct to the fugitive Duke of Suabia, 
whom he judges severely while he boasts of his own 
deed. 

“Tt is scarcely conceivable,” said Goethe, ‘ but 
Schiller, like others, was subject to the influence of 
women; and, if he committed such a fault, it was 


1831. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 373 


rather on account of this influence, than from his own 
fine nature.” 
Friday, March 18, 1831. 

Dined with Goethe. I brought him ‘ Daphnis 
and Chloe,” which he wished to read once more. 

We spoke of higher maxims, whether it was good 
or possible to communicate them to others. ‘ The 
capacity of apprehending what is high,” said Goethe, 
‘is very rare; and therefore, in common life, a man 
does well to keep such things for himself, and only to 
give out so much as is needful to have some advantage 
against others.” 

We touched upon the point that many men, espe- 
cially critics and poets, wholly ignore true greatness, 
while they assign an extraordinary value to medio- 
crity. 

“ Man,” said Goethe, ‘ recognises and praises 
only that which he himself is capable of doing ; and 
as certain people have their proper existence in the 
mediocre, they get a trick of thoroughly depreciating 
that in literature which, while faulty, may have good 
points, that they may elevate the mediocre, which they 
praise, to a greater eminence.” 

I noted this that I might know how to think of such 
a practice in future. 

We then spoke of the ** Theory of Colours,” and 
of certain German professors who continue to warn 
their pupils against it as a great error. 

‘¢ T am sorry, for the sake of many a good scholar,” 
said Goethe ; “ but, for myself, it is quite indifferent ; 
my theory is as old as the world, and cannot always be 
repudiated and set aside.” 


374 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


Goethe then told me that he was making good pro- 
gress with his new edition of the “* Metamorphosis of 
Plants,”’ and Soret’s translation, which was more and 
more felicitous. 

“¢ Tt will be a remarkable book,” said he, “ inas- 
much as the most varied elements are worked up into 
one whole. I have inserted some passages from some 
important young German naturalists, and it is pleasing 
to see that such a good style has been formed among 
the better writers in Germany, that we cannot tell 
whether one or the other is speaking. However, the 
book gives me more trouble than I thought, and I 
was at first led into the undertaking almost against 
myself, but something Demonic prevailed, which was 
not to be resisted.” 

“You did well,” said I, “in yielding to such 
influences, for the Demonic seems to be of such a 
powerful nature, that it is sure to carry its point at 
last.” 

“ Only,” replied Goethe, ‘ man, in his turn, must 
endeavour to carry his point against the Damonic ; 
and, in the present case, I must try by all industry and 
toil to make my book as good as lies in my power, 
and as circumstances will allow. Such matters are in 
the same predicament as the game which the French 
call codille, where a great deal is decided by the 
dice which are thrown, but where it is left to the 
skill of the player to place the men well on the 
board.” 

I respected these excellent remarks, which I stored 
up as good doctrine, and as a rule for practice. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 375 


Sunday, March 20, 1831. 

Goethe told me at table that he had been lately 
reading ‘¢ Daphnis and Chloe.” 

“¢ The book,” said he, ‘* is so beautiful, that, amid 
the bad circumstances in which we live, we cannot 
retain the impression we receive from it, but are 
astonished anew every time we read it. ‘The clearest 
day prevails in it, and we think we are looking at 
nothing but Herculanean pictures, while these paint- 
ings react upon the book, and assist our fancy as we 
read.” 

“¢ T was much pleased,” said I, ‘ at a certain isola- 
tion in which the whole is placed. There is scarcely 
a foreign allusion to take us out of those happy regions. 
Of the deities, Pan and the nymphs are alone active, 
any other is scarce.y named, and still we see that these 
are quite enough for the wants of shepherds.” 

“* And yet, notwithstanding all this isolation,” said 
Goethe, “* a complete world is developed. We see 
shepherds of every kind, agriculturists, gardeners, vine- 
dressers, sailors, robbers, and warriors, besides genteel 
townsmen, great lords, and serfs.” 

“We also see man,” said I, ‘ in all his grades 
of life, from his birth to his old age; and all the 
domestic circumstances which are occasioned by 
changes of season pass before our eyes.” 

“ Then the landscape,” said Goethe, —“ how clearly 
is it given with a few touches! We can see, rising 
behind the persons, vineyards, fields, and orchards ; 
below, the meadow and the stream; and, in the dis- 
tance, the broad sea. Then there is not a trace of 


376 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


gloomy days, of mists, clouds, and damp, but always 
the clearest bluest sky, a charming air and the driest 
soil, so that one would readily stretch one’s naked 
limbs anywhere. 

“ The whole poem,” * continued Goethe, ‘ shows 
the highest art and cultivation. It has been so well 
considered, that not a motive is wanting, but all are of 
the best and most substantial kind; as, for instance, 
that of the treasure near the dolphin on the shore. 
Then there is a taste, and a perfection, and a delicacy 
of feeling, which cannot be excelled. Everything that 
is repulsive and disturbs from without the happy con- 
dition which the poem expresses,—such as invasion, 
robbery, and war,—is got rid of as quickly as possible, 
so that scarcely a trace of it is left. Then vice 
appears in the train of the townsmen, and there not in 
the principal characters, but in a subordinate person- 
age. All this is of the highest beauty.” 

“ Then,” said I, ‘* 1 was much pleased to see how 
well the relation between master and servant is ex- 
pressed. On the one hand, there is the kindest treat- 
ment; on the other, in spite of all naive freedom, 
great respect and an endeavour to gain, in any way, 
the favour of the master. ‘Thus the young towns- 
man, who has rendered himself odious to Daphnis, 
endeavours, when the latter is recognised as his mas- 
ter’s son, to regain his favour by boldly rescuing Chloe 
from the cowherds, and bringing her back to him.” 

‘‘ All these things,” said Goethe, ‘ show great 
understanding ; it is excellent also that Chloe preserves 


* “ Gedicht” has a wider meaning than the English word * poem,”— 
Trans. 


1831. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 377 


her innocence to the end,—and the motives for this are 
so well contrived, that the greatest human affairs are 
brought under notice. One must write a whole book 
properly to estimate all the great merits of this poem, 
and one would do well to read it every year, to be in- 
structed by it again and again, and to receive anew the 
impression of its great beauty.” 
Monday, March 21, 1831. 

We talked on political subjects,—of the incessant 
disturbances at Paris, and the fancy of young people to 
meddle in the highest affairs of state. 

“In England, also,” said I, ‘the students some 
time ago tried to obtain an influence on the decision 
of the Catholic question by sending in petitions ; but 
they were laughed at, and no further notice was taken 
of them.” 

“¢ The example of Napoleon,” said Goethe, ‘has, 
especially in the young people of France who grew up 
under that hero, excited a spirit of egotism ; and they 
will not rest until a great despot once again rises up 
among them, in whom they may see the perfection of 
what they themselves wish to be. ‘The misfortune is, 
that a man like Napoleon will not so soon again be 
born; and I almost fear that some hundred thousands 
of human lives will be wasted before the world is again 
tranquillized, 

‘* Of literary influence there can be no thought at 
present; one can now do nothing further than quietly 
prepare good things for a more peaceful time.” 

After these few political remarks, we spoke again of 
** Daphnis and Chloe,” Goethe praised Courier’s 
translation as perfect, 


378 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


*¢ Courier did well,” said he, “ to respect and retain 
Amyot’s old translation, and only in parts to improve, 
to purify, and bring it nearer the original. The old 
French is so naive, and suits the subject so perfectly, 
that it will not be easy to make, in any language, a 
more perfect translation of this book.” 

We then spoke of Courier’s own works,—of his 
little fugitive pieces, and the defence of the famous ink- 
spot on the manuscript at Florence. 

“* Courier,” said Goethe, “ is a great natural talent. 
He has features of Lord Byron, as also of Beaumar- 
chais and Diderot. He is like Byron in command 
over all things which may serve him as argument,— 
like Beaumarchais in his adroitness as an advocate,— 
like Diderot in dialectic skill,—and it is not possible 
to be more spirited and witty.* However, he seems 
not entirely to clear himself from the ink-spot accusa- 
tion, and is, in his whole tendency, not sufficiently 
positive to claim unqualified praise. He is at variance 
with all the world, and we cannot but suppose that 
some fault is on his side.” 

We spoke of the difference between the German 
notion Geist, and the French Esprit. 

“The French Esprit,” said Goethe, “ means nearly 
the same with our German word Witz. Our Geist 
might, perhaps, be expressed in French by Esprit and 
Ame. It includes the idea of productivity, which is 
not in the French Esprit.” 

“¢ Voltaire,” said I, ‘* had nevertheless what we name 


* The words “spirited and witty” are used by the American translator 
as an equivalent for the untranslatable “ geistreich.” The remarks which 
immediately follow touch upon this most difficult word.—Trans. 


1831. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 379 


Geist in the German sense of the word. And as 
Esprit does not suffice, what word do the French use?” 

‘“<In such a lofty instance,” said Goethe, ‘‘ they say 
Génie.” 

“Tam now reading,” said I, ‘a volume of Diderot, 
and am astonished by the extraordinary talent of the 
man. And what knowledge! what a power of lan- 
guage! We look into a great animated world, where 
one constantly stimulated another, and mind and cha- 
racter were kept in such constant exercise, that both 
must be flexible and strong. But it seems to me quite 
extraordinary to see what men the French had in their 
literature in the last century. I am astonished when I 
only look at it.” 

“It was the metamorphosis of a hundred-year-old 
literature,” said Goethe, “ which had been growing 
ever since Louis XIV., and stood now in full flower. 
But it was really Voltaire who excited such minds as 
Diderot, D’Alembert, and Beaumarchais ; for to be 
somewhat near him a man needed to be much, and 
could take no holidays.” 

Goethe then told me of a young professor of the 
Oriental languages and literature at Jena, who had 
lived a long time at Paris, and was so highly cultivated, 
that he wished I would make his acquaintance. 

As I went, he gave me an essay, by Schrén, on the 
expected comet, that I might not remain entirely a 
stranger to such matters. 

Tuesday, March 22, 1831. 

After dinner, Goethe read to me passages from the 
letter of a young friend, at Rome. Some German 
artists appeared there with long hair, moustachios, shirt- 


380 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


collars turned over on old-fashioned German coats, 
tobacco-pipes, and bull-dogs. They do not seem to 
visit Rome for the sake of the great masters, or to 
learn anything. To them Raphael seems weak, and 
Titian merely a good colourist. 

** Niebuhr,” said Goethe, ‘ was right when he saw 
a barbarous age coming. It is already here, we are in 
the midst of it; for wherein does barbarism consist, 
unless in not appreciating what is excellent !” 

Our young friend then gave an account of the car- 
nival, the election of the new pope, and the revolution 
which broke out immediately after. 

We saw Horace Vernet ensconcing himself like a 
knight, while some German artists stay quietly at home, 
and cut off their beards, which seems to intimate that 
they have not, by their conduct, made themselves very 
popular among the Romans. 

We discussed the question whether the errors now 
perceptible in some young German artists had pro- 
ceeded from individuals, and spread abroad by intel- 
lectual contagion, or whether they had their origin in 
the general tendency of the time. 

“They come,” said Goethe, “ from a few indivi- 
duals, and have now been in operation for forty years. 
The doctrine was, that the artist chiefly needs piety and 
genius to be equal to the best. Such a doctrine was 
very flattering, and was eagerly snatched up. For, to 
become pious, a man need learn nothing, and genius 
each one inherited from his mother. One need only 
utter something that flatters indolence and conceit, to 
be sure of plenty of adherents among commonplace 
people.” 


ee eee rt eee AN Ee ne Re ne bs 


1831. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 381 


Friday, March 25, 1831. 

Goethe showed me an elegant green elbow-chair, 
which he had lately bought at an auction. 

“© However,” said he, ‘I shall use it but little, or not 
at all; for all kinds of commodiousness are against my 
nature. You see in my chamber no sofa; I always 
sit in my old wooden chair, and never till a few weeks 
ago have I had a leaning-place put for my head. If 
surrounded by convenient tasteful furniture, my 
thoughts are absorbed, and I am placed in an agree- 
able but passive state. Unless we are accustomed to 
them from early youth, splendid chambers and elegant 
furniture are for people who neither have nor can have 
any thoughts.” 

Sunday, March 27, 1831. 

After long Balog Nes bi the finest spring weather 
has come at last. On the perfectly blue heaven floats 
only some little white cloud now and then, and it is 
warm enough to resume summer clothing. 

Goethe had the table covered in a pavilion in the 
garden, and so we dined once more in the open air. 
We talked of the Grand-Duchess ; how she is quietly 
at work in all directions, doing good, and making the 
hearts of all her subjects her own. 

“ The Grand-Duchess,” said Goethe, ‘‘ has as much 
intellect and sweetness as good-will; she is a true 
blessing to the country. And as men are everywhere 
quick to feel whence they receive benefits, worshipping 
the sun and kindly elements, I wonder not that all 
hearts turn to her with love, and that she is speedily 
appreciated, as she deserves to be.” 


382 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


I mentioned that I had begun ‘ Minna von Barn- 
helm” with the Prince, and observed how excellent 
this piece appeared to me. 

“ Lessing,” said I, ‘‘ has been spoken of as a cold 
man of understanding; but I find in this drama as 
much heart, soul, charming naturalness, and free world- 
culture of a fresh, cheerful, living man, as one could 
desire.” 

<< You may imagine,” said Goethe, ‘‘ what an effect 
that work produced on us young people when it came 
out in that dark time. Truly it was a glittering meteor. 
It taught us to perceive that there was something 
higher than that of which the weak literary epoch gave 
any notion. ‘The first two acts are a model in the art 
of introduction ; from which much has been learned, 
and much may be learned still. Nowadays, indeed, 
writers are not curious about this art: the effect, which 
was once expected in the third act, they will now have 
in the first scene: and they do not reflect that it is 
with poetry as with going to sea, where we should 
push from the shore, and reach a certain elevation, 
before we unfurl all our sails.” 

Goethe had some excellent Rhine wine brought, 
which had been sent by his Frankfort friends, as a 
present, on his last birthday. He told some stories 
about Merck, and how he could not pardon the Grand- 
Duke for having once, in the Ruhl near Eisenach, 
praised an ordinary wine as excellent. 

“ Merck and I,” he continued, ‘“‘ were always to 
one another as Mephistophiles to Faust. ‘Thus he 
scoffed at a letter written by my father from Italy, in 
which the latter complained of the miserable way of 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 383 


living,—the heavy wine, the food to which he was 
unaccustomed, and the mosquitoes. Merck could not 
forgive him, in that delicious country and surrounded 
by such magnificence, for being troubled about such 
little matters as eating, drinking, and flies. 

‘¢ All Merck’s tauntings, no doubt, proceeded from 
a high state of culture; only, as he was not produc- 
tive, but had, on the contrary, a decidedly negative 
tendency, he was ever more inclined to blame than 
praise, and was involuntarily always seeking for means 
to gratify this inclination.” 

We talked of Vogel, and his ministerial talents ; of 
* * %* and his character. 

“« * * * ,” said Goethe, ‘ is a man by him- 
self—a man who can be compared with no other. He 
was the only one who sided with me in opposing the 
freedom of the press: he stands fast ; one can depend 
on him ; he will always abide by what is legitimate.” 

After dinner, we walked up and down in the garden, 
taking our pleasure in the white snow-drops and yel- 
low crocuses, now in full flower. The tulips, too, 
were coming out; and we talked of the splendour and 
costliness of this growth of Holland. 

“A great flower-painter,” said Goethe, ‘is not 
now to be expected: we have attained too high a 
degree of scientific truth ;. and the botanist counts the 
stamina after the painter, while he has no eye for 
picturesque lights and grouping.” 


Monday, March 28, 1831. 


To-day I again passed some very delightful hours 
with Goethe. ‘ My ‘ Metamorphosis of Plants,’” 


a a ae 
od es 


384 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831 


said he, “ is as good as finished. What I have to 
say about the spiral and Herr von Martius is also as 
good as done, and I have this morning resumed the 
fourth volume of my ‘ Autobiography,’ and drawn up 
a scheme of what I have yet to do. I may almost say 
that I find it enviable to be allowed, at my advanced 
age, to write the history of my youth, and to describe 
an epoch which is, in many respects, of high signifi- 
cance.” 

We talked over the several particulars, which were 
present to my mind as well as to his. 

“In the description of your love-affair with Lili,” 
said I, “* we never miss your youth, but these scenes 
bear the perfect breath of early years.” 

*¢ That is because such scenes are poetical,’ said 
Goethe, ‘¢ and I was able to compensate by the force 
of poetry for the feeling of youthful love, in which 
I was deficient.” 

We then talked of the remarkable passage, in which 
Goethe describes his sister’s situation. ‘* This chap- 
ter,” said he, ‘ will be read with interest by many 
ladies of education, for there will be many like my 
sister in this respect, that, with superior mental and 
moral endowments, they are without the advantage of 
personal beauty.” 

“¢ That, when a ball or festival was at hand,” said I, 
*¢ she was generally afflicted with an eruption in the 
face, is so odd that it may be ascribed to the influence of 
something demonic.” 

*« She was a remarkable being,” said Goethe; ‘‘ she 
stood morally very high, and had not a trace of sen- 
suality about her. ‘The thought of resigning herself to 





1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 385 


a man was repulsive to her, and we may imagine that 
this peculiarity caused many unpleasant hours in mar- 
riage. Women who have a similar aversion, or do 
not love their husbands, will feel the force of this. 
On this account I could never look upon my sister as 
married; she would have been much more in her 
place as an abbess in a convent. 

“¢ Although she was married to one of the best of 
men, she was still unhappy in a married life, and hence 
it was that she so passionately opposed my projected 
union with Lili.” 

Tuesday, March 29, 1831. 

We talked to-day about Merck, and Goethe told 
me some more characteristic features, 

“ The late Grand-Duke,” said he, “* was very fond 
of Merck, so that he once became his security for a 
debt of four thousand dollars. Before long, Merck, 
to our astonishment, sent the bond back. His cir- 
cumstances had not improved, and we could not divine 
what sort of a negociation he had made. When I 
saw him again, he explained the enigma thus,— 

“©¢ The Duke,’ said he, ‘ is an excellent, generous 
man, who trusts and helps men whenever he can. 
Now I thought to myself, ‘ If you cheat him out of 
his money, that will prejudice a thousand others ; for 
he will lose his precious trustfulness, and many unfor- 
tunate but worthy men will suffer, because one was a 
rascal.’ Well now—what have I done? I have 
made a speculation, and borrowed the money from a 
scoundrel, for if I cheat him it will be no matter; but 
if I had cheated our good lord, it would have been a 
pity.’ ”’ 

VOL. II. ¢-c 


386 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


We laughed at the whimsical greatness of the 
man. 

“© Merck had a habit,” continued Goethe, ‘ of 
continually shouting he, he, as he talked. This habit 
grew upon him with advancing years, till at length it 
was like the bark of adog. He fell at last into a deep 
hypochondriacal gloom, the consequence of his many 
speculations, and finished by shooting himself. He 
imagined he must become bankrupt ; but it was found 
that his affairs were by no means in so bad a state as 
he had supposed.” 

Wednesday, March 30, 1831. 

We talked again of the Demonic. 

“Tt throws itself willingly into figures of impor- 
tance,” said Goethe, ‘‘ and prefers somewhat dark 
times. In a clear prosaic city, like Berlin, for instance, 
it would scarcely find occasion to manifest itself.” 

In this remark Goethe expressed what I had been 
thinking some days since. This gave me pleasure, 
as we always feel delight in finding our thoughts con- 
firmed. 

Yesterday and this morning I had been reading the 
third volume of his “ Biography,” and felt, as in the 
case of a foreign language, when, after making some 
progress, we again read a book, which we thought 
we understood before, but now first perceive in its 
minutest touches and delicate shades. 

“ Your ‘ Biography,’ ” said I, ‘* is a book by which 
we find our culture greatly assisted.” 

“< Those are merely results from my life,” said he ; 
“¢ and the particular facts that are related serve only to 
confirm a general reflection—a higher truth.” 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 387 


“¢ What you state about Basedow,” said I, ** how, in 
order to attain his higher ends, he stood in need of 
persons, and would have gained their favour, but never 
reflected that he would spoil all by such a totally reck- 
less utterance of his offensive religious views, and by 
making men regard with suspicion that to which they 
adhered with love,—these and similar traits appear to 
me highly important.” 

“<] imagine,” said Goethe, “that there are in the 
book some symbols of human life. I called it Dich- 
tung und Wahrheit (Poetry and Truth), because it 
raises itself by higher tendencies from the region of a 
lower Reality. Now Jean Paul, in the spirit of 
contradiction, has written Wahrheit aus meinem Leben 
(Truth out of my Life), as if the truth from the life 
of such a man could be any other than that the author 
was a Philistine. But the Germans do not easily 
understand how to receive anything out of the com- 
mon course, and what is of a high nature often passes 
by them without their being aware of it. A fact of 
our lives is valuable, not so far as it is true, but so far 
as it is significant.” 

Thursday, March 31, 1831. 

Dined at the Prince’s with Soret and Meyer. We 
talked of literary matters, and Meyer gave an account 
of his first acquaintance with Schiller. 

“| was walking with Goethe,” said he, “in the 
place called the Paradise, near Jena, where we met 
Schiller, and conversed with him for the first time. 
He had not yet completed his ‘ Don Carlos ;’ he had 
just returned from Swabia, and seemed very sick, and 
in a state of nervous suffering. His face was like the 

cc 2 


388 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


picture of a crucified Christ. Goethe thought he 
could not live a fortnight ; but as his situation became 
more agreeable he grew better, and, indeed, it was not 
till then that he wrote all his important works.” 

Meyer then related some traits of Jean Paul and 
Schlegel—both of whom he had met at a public-house 
in Heidelberg—and some pleasant reminiscences of his 
residence in Italy, which entertained us highly. 

I always feel happy near Meyer ; probably because 
he is a self-relying, satisfied person, who takes but 
little notice of the circumstances around him, but at 
suitable intervals exhibits his own comfortable soul. 
At the same time, he is everywhere well-grounded, 
possesses the greatest treasure of knowledge, and a 
memory to which the most remote events are as 
present as if they happened yesterday. He has a pre- 
ponderance of understanding which might make us 
dread him, if it did not rest upon the noblest culture ; 
but, as it is, his quiet presence is always agreeable, 
always instructive. 

(Sup.*) Wednesday, March 31, 1831. 

Goethe had been for some time very unwell, so that 
he could only see his most intimate friends. Some 
weeks before, bleeding had been ordered him ; then he 
felt uneasiness and pain in his right leg, until at last his 
internal complaint vented itself by a wound in the foot; 
when improvement speedily followed. This wound, 
too, has now healed for some days, and he is now as 
lively as ever. 

The Grand-Duchess had paid him a visit to-day, 
and had returned very well satisfied. She had inquired 
after his health ; when he very gallantly answered, that 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 389 


until to-day he had not perceived his recovery, but that 
her presence had made him once more feel the blessing 
of restored health, 

Friday, April 1, 1830. 

At table talked with Goethe on various subjects. 
He showed me a water-colour drawing by Herr von 
Reutern, representing a young peasant, who stands in 
the market-place of a small town near a female basket- 
seller. ‘The young man is surveying the baskets, 
which lie before him, while two females, who are 
seated, and a stout lass, who stands by them, regard 
his comely, youthful face with satisfaction. The 
picture is so prettily composed, and there is such 
naiveté and truth in the expression of the figures, that 
one cannot look at it enough. 

‘“¢ Water-colour painting,” said Goethe, ‘is brought 
to a very high degree in this picture. ‘There are some 
silly folks who. say that Herr von Reutern is indebted 
to no one in his art, but has everything from himself, 
as if a man could have anything from himself but 
clumsiness and stupidity. If this artist has had no 
master so called, he has nevertheless had intercourse 
with excellent masters, and from these, as well as from 
great predecessors and ever-present nature, he has 
acquired what he now possesses. Nature has given 
him an excellent talent, and nature and art together 
have perfected him. He is excellent, and in many 
respects unique, but we cannot say that he has every- 
thing from himself. Of a thoroughly crazy and 
defective artist, we may, indeed, say he has everything 
from himself; but of an excellent one, never.” 

Goethe then showed me a work by the same artist, 


390 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


a frame richly painted with gold and various colours, 
with a place left in the middle for an inscription. At 
the top there was a building in the Gothic style; rich 
arabesques, with landscapes and domestic scenes inter- 
woven, ran down the two sides ; at the bottom was a 
pleasant woodland scene, with the freshest grass and 
foliage, 

“ Herr von Reutern,” says Goethe, ‘ wishes I 
would write neatly in the blank space ; but his frame 
is such a splendid work of art, that I dread to spoil 
the picture with my handwriting. I have composed 
some verses for the purpose, and think it will be 
better to have them inserted by the hand of a cali- 
grapher. I would then sign them myself. What do 
you advise in this matter ?” 

“If I were Herr von Reutern,” said I, “* I should 
be grieved to have the poem in the hand of another ; 
happy, if it were written in your own. The painter 
has displayed art enough in the frame—none is needed 
in the writing; it is only important that it should be 
genuine—in your own hand. I advise you, too, not 
to use the Roman, but the German text; for your 
hand has in that a more peculiar character, and, 
besides, it harmonizes better with the Gothic design 
in the frame.” 

“ You may be right,” said Goethe ; *¢ and in the 
end it will be the shortest way. Perhaps to-day will 
bring a courageous moment, in which I may venture 
upon it. But if I make a blot on the beautiful pic- 
ture,” he added, laughing, ‘* you shall answer for it.” 

“ Write only,” said I, ‘* and it will be well, how- 
ever it may be.” 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 391 


Tuesday, April 5, 1831. 

At noon with Goethe. ‘In Art,” said he, “* we 
do not easily meet a talent that gives us more pleasure 
than that of Neureuther. Artists seldom confine 
themselves to what they can do well; most are always 
trying to do more than they can, and are too fond of 
going beyond the circle in which Nature has placed their 
talent. But of Neureuther, we can say that he stands 
above his talent. Objects from all departments of 
nature are at his command; he draws ground, rocks, 
and trees, as well as men or animals, and, while he 
lavishes such wealth on slight marginal drawings, he 
seems to play with his capabilities, and the spectator 
feels that pleasure which is ever wont to accompany 
a free, easy, libation from abundant means, 

“© No one has gone so far as he in marginal draw- 
ings ; even the great talent of Albert Diirer has been 
to him less a pattern than an incitement. I will send 
a copy of these drawings to Scotland, to Mr. Carlyle, 
and hope thus to make no unwelcome present to that 
friend.” 

(Sup.*) Wednesday, April 14, 1831. 

A soirée at the Prince’s. One of the old gentlemen 
present, who remembered many things of the first 
years of Goethe’s residence here, related to us the 
following very characteristic anecdote :-— 

“¢ T was present,” said he, ‘‘ when Goethe, in the 
year 1784, made his well-known renowned speech, on 
the solemn opening of the IImenau mine, to which he 
had invited all the officers and influential persons of the 
town and environs. He appeared to have had his 


392 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


speech well in his head; for he spoke for a long 
while with perfect fluency, and without any hesitation. 
All at once, however, he appeared to be quite forsaken 
by his good genius ; the thread of his thoughts seemed 
to be cut off, and he appeared quite to have lost the 
power of grasping what he had further to say. This 
would have thrown any one else into great embarrass- 
ment, but it was not so with him. On the contrary, 
he looked for at least ten minutes, steadily and quietly, 
round the circle of his numerous audience, who were 
so struck by his personal power, that during the very 
long and almost ridiculous pause, every one remained 
perfectly quiet. At last he appeared to have again 
become master of his subject; he went on with his 
speech, and, without hesitation, continued it very ably 
to the end, as unembarrassed and serene as if nothing 
had happened. 
Monday, May 2, 1831. 

Goethe delighted me with the information that he 
had lately succeeded in almost finishing the fifth act of 
s¢ Faust,’ which had hitherto been wanting. 

“¢ The purport of these scenes,”’ said he, “ is above 
thirty years old; it was of such importance that I 
could not lose my interest in it, but so difficult to carry 
out that it frightened me. By various arts I am now 
in the right train again, and, if fortune favours, I shall 
write off the fourth act at once.” 

Goethe then mentioned a well-known author, 
“ He is a talent,” said he, ‘* to whom _party-hatred 
serves as an alliance, and who would have produced 
no effect without it. We find frequent instances in 
literature, where hatred supplies the place of genius, 


1821, CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. ; 
9 


and where small talents appear important, by coming 
forward as organs of a party. Thus too, in life, we 
find a multitude of persons, who have not character 
enough to stand alone; these in the same way attach 
themselves to a party, by which they feel themselves 
strengthened, and can at last make some figure. 


Sunday, May 15, 1831. 

Dined alone with Goethe in his work-room. After 
much cheerful discourse he at last turned the conversa- 
tion to his personal affairs, by rising and taking from 
his desk a written paper. 

“¢ When one, like myself,’ said he, ‘ has passed 
the age of eighty, one has hardly a right to live, but 
ought each day to hold oneself ready to be called away, 
and think of setting one’s house in order. I have, as 
I lately told you, appointed you in my will editor 
of my literary remains, and have this morning drawn 
up, as a sort of contract, a little paper, which I wish 
you to sign with me.” 

With these words, Goethe placed before me the 
paper, in which I found mentioned by name the works, 
both finished and unfinished, which were to be pub- 
lished after his death. I had come to an understanding 
with him upon essentials, and we both signed the 
contract. 

The material, which I had already from time to 
time been busy in revising, I estimated at about fifteen 
volumes. We then talked of certain matters of detail, 
which had not been yet decided, 

“<The case may arise,” said Goethe, ‘ that the 
publisher is unwilling to go beyond a certain number 


394 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


of sheets, and that hence some part of the material 
must be omitted. In that case, you may omit the 
polemic part of my ‘ Theory of Colours.’ My 
peculiar doctrine is contained in the theoretical part ; 
and as the historical part is already of a polemic 
character, inasmuch as the leading errors of the 
Newtonian theory are discussed there, you will almost 
have polemics enough. I by no means disavow my 
severe dissection of the Newtonian maxims; it was 
necessary at the time, and will also have its value 
hereafter ; but, at bottom, all polemic action is repug- 
nant to my proper nature, and I can take but little 
pleasure in it.” 

We next talked about the ‘“* Maxims and Reflec- 
tions,” which had been printed at the end of the 
second and third volumes of the ‘¢ Wanderjahre.” 

When he began to remodel and finish this novel, 
which had previously appeared in one volume,* 
Goethe intended to expand it into two, as indeed is 
expressed in the announcement of the new edition of 
his entire works. But, as the work progressed, the 
manuscript grew beyond expectation; and, as his 
secretary wrote widely, Goethe was deceived, and 
thought that he had enough not only for two but for 
three volumes, and accordingly the manuscript went in 
three volumes to the publishers. However, when the 
printing had reached a certain point, it was found that 
Goethe had made a miscalculation, and that the two 


' * This original shorter ‘* Wanderjahre” is the one translated by Mr. 
Carlyle, and inserted in his ‘ Specimens of German Romance.” The 
larger novel, which appears in Goethe’s collected works, has not, to my 
knowledge, been translated.— Trans. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 395 


last volumes especially were too small. They sent for 
more manuscript, and, as the course of the novel 
(Roman) could not be altered, and it was impossible to 
invent, write, and insert a new tale (Novelle) in the 
hurry of the moment, Goethe was really in some 
perplexity. 

Under these circumstances he sent for me, told 
me the state of the case, and mentioned at the same 
time how he thought to help himself out of the diffi- 
culty, laying before me two large bundles of manu- 
script, which he had caused to be fetched for that 
purpose. 

“¢ In these two parcels you will find various papers 
hitherto unpublished, detached pieces, finished and 
unfinished, opinions on natural science, art, literature, 
and life, all mingled together. Suppose you were to 
make up from these, six or eight printed sheets to fill 
the gaps in my ‘* Wanderjahre.’ Strictly speaking, 
they have nothing to do with it, but the proceeding 
may be justified by the fact that mention is made of an 
archive in Makaria’s house, in which such detached 
pieces are preserved. ‘Thus we shall not only get 
over a great difficulty for the moment, but find a fitting 
vehicle for sending a number of very interesting things 
into the world.” 

I approved of the plan, set to work at once, and 
completed the desired arrangement in a short time. 
Goethe seemed well satisfied. I had put together the 
whole in two principal parts, one under the title— 
“¢ From Makaria’s Archive;” the other, under the 
head—‘* According to the Views of the Wanderer.” 
And as Goethe, at this time, had just finished two 


396 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


important poems, one—* On Schiller’s Skull,” and the 
other—‘ Kein Wesen kann zu nichts zerfallen” (No 
being can fall away to nothing), he was desirous to 
bring out these also, and we added them at the close of 
the two divisions. 

But when the ‘ Wanderjahre” came out, no one 
knew what to make of it. The progress of the 
romance was seen to be interrupted by a number of 
enigmatical sayings, the explanation of which could 
be expected only from men of certain departments, 
such as artists, literati, and natural philosophers, and 
which greatly annoyed all other readers, especially 
those of the fair sex. Then, as for the two poems, 
people could as little understand them as they could 
guess how they got into such a place. Goethe laughed 
at this. 

‘¢ What is done is done,” said he to-day, ‘ and all 
you have to do is, when you edit my literary remains, 
to. insert these things in their proper places, so that 
when my works are republished, they may be distri- 
buted in proper order, and the * Wanderjahre’ may 
be reduced to two volumes, according to the original 
intention.” 

We agreed that I should hereafter arrange all the 
aphorisms relating to Art in a volume on subjects of 
art, all relating to Nature in a volume on natural 
science in general, and all the ethical and literary 
maxims in a volume likewise adapted for them. 


Wednesday, May 5, 1831. 


We talked of ‘* Wallenstein’s Camp.” I had often 
heard that Goethe had assisted in the composition of 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 397 


this piece, and, in particular, that the Capuchin sermon 
came from him. To-day, at dinner, I asked him, and 
he replied— 

“* At bottom, it is all Schiller’s own work. But, 
as we lived in such a relation that Schiller not only 
told me his plan, and talked it over with me, but also 
communicated what he did from day to day, hearing 
and using my remarks, I may be said to have had some 
share in it. For the Capuchin sermon, I sent him a 
discourse, by Abraham a Sancta Clara, from which he 
immediately composed his with great talent. 

*<] scarcely remember that any passages came from 
me except the two lines— 


* Ein Hauptmann den ein andrer erstach 
Liess mir ein paar gliickliche Wiirfel nach.’ 


A captain, whom another slew, 
Left me a pair of lucky dice. 


Wishing to give some motive for the peasant’s pos- 
session of the false dice, I wrote down these lines 
in the manuscript with my own hand. Schiller had 
not troubled himself about that, but, in his bold way, 
had given the peasant the dice without inquiring much 
how he came by them. A careful linking together of 
motives was, as I have said, not in his way ; whence, 
perhaps, his pieces had so much the greater effect on 
the stage.” 
Sunday, May 29, 1831. 

Goethe told me of a boy who could not console 
himself after he had committed a trifling fault. 

“] was sorry to observe this,” said he, ‘for it 
shows a too tender conscience, which values so highly 


398 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


its own moral self that it will excuse nothing in it. 
Such a conscience makes hypochondriacal men, if it is 
not balanced by great activity.” 

A nest of young hedge-sparrows, with one of the old 
birds, which had been caught with bird-lime, had lately 
been brought me. I saw with admiration that the bird 
not only continued to feed its young in my chamber, 
but even, when set free through the window, returned 
to them again. Such parental love, superior to danger 
and imprisonment, moved me deeply, and I, to-day, 
expressed my surprise to Goethe. 

‘** Foolish man!” he replied, with a meaning smile ; 
*¢ if you believed in God, you would not wonder. 


‘¢ ¢Thm ziemt’s, die Welt im Innern zu bewegen, 
Natur in Sich, Sich in Natur zu hegen, 
So daas, was in Ihm lebt, und webt, und ist, 
Nie Seine Kraft, nie Seinen Geist vermisst.” 


He from within glories to move the world, 
To foster Nature in Himself, Himself 

In Nature, so that all that lives in Him 

Is ne’er without His spirit and His strength. 


“¢ Did not God inspire the bird with this all-powerful 
love for its young, and did not similar impulses per- 
vade all animate nature, the world could not subsist. 
But thus is the divine energy everywhere diffused, and 
divine love everywhere active.” 

Goethe made a similar remark a short time ago, 
when a model from Myron’s cow, with the suckling 
calf, was sent him by a young sculptor. 

“« Here,” said he, “‘ we have a subject of the highest 
sort—the nourishing principle which upholds the world, 
and pervades all nature, is here brought before our 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 399 


eyes by a beautiful symbol. This, and similar images, 
I call the true symbols of the omnipresence of God.” 


Monday, June 6, 1831. 

Goethe showed me to-day the beginning of the fifth 
act of ‘¢ Faust,” which had hitherto been wanting. I 
read to the place where the cottage of Philemon and 
Baucis is burned, and Faust, standing by night on the 
balcony of his palace, smells the smoke, which is borne 
to him by a light breeze. 

“¢’These names, Philemon and Baucis,” said I, 
“transport me to the Phrygian coast, reminding me of 
the famous couple of antiquity. But our scene belongs 
to modern days, and a Christian landscape.” 

“© My Philemon and Baucis,” said Goethe, ‘ have 
nothing to do with that renowned ancient couple, and 
the tradition connected with them. I gave this couple 
the names merely to elevate the characters. The 
persons and relations are similar, and hence the use of 
the names has a good effect.” 

We then spoke of Faust, whom the hereditary por- 
tion of his character—discontent—has not left even in 
his old age, and who, amid all the treasures of the 
world, and in a new dominion of his own making, is 
annoyed by a couple of lindens, a cottage, and a bell, 
which are not his. He is therein not unlike Ahab, 
King of Israel, who fancied he possessed nothing, unless 
he could also make the vineyard of Naboth his own, 

“ Faust,” said Goethe, “‘when he appears in the 
fifth act, should, according to my design, be exactly a 
hundred years old, and I rather think it would be well 
expressly to say so in some passage.” 


400 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


We then spoke of the conclusion, and Goethe 
directed my attention to the passage— 


“ Delivered is the noble spirit * 

From the control of evil powers ; 
Who ceaselessly doth strive will merit 

That we should save and make him ours: 
If Love celestial never cease 

To watch him from its upper sphere ; 
The children of eternal peace 

Bear him to cordial welcome there.” 


, 


“In these lines,”’ said he, ‘is contained the key to 
Faust’s salvation. In Faust himself there is an activity 
which becomes constantly higher and purer to the end, 
and from above there is eternal love coming to his 
aid. This harmonizes perfectly with our religious 
views, according to which we cannot obtain heavenly 
bliss through our own strength alone, but with the 
assistance of divine grace. 

“You will confess that the conclusion, where the 
redeemed soul is carried up, was difficult to manage ; 
and that I, amid such supersensual matters, about 
which we scarcely have even an intimation, might easily 
have lost myself in the vague, if I had not, by means 
of sharply-drawn figures, and images from the Chris- 
tian church, given my poetical design a desirable form 
and substance.” 





In the following weeks Goethe finished the fourth 
act, which had yet been wanting; so that in August 
the whole second part was sewed together quite com- 
plete. Goethe was extremely happy in having at last 


* This is Mrs. Fuller’s version, with a slight alteration. —Trans. 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 401 


attained this object, towards which he had been striving 
so long. 

“« My remaining days,” said he, ‘* 1 may now con- 
sider a free gift ; and it is now, in fact, of little conse- 
quence what I now do, or whether I do anything.” 


> 


(Sup.) Sunday, June 20, 1831. 


This afternoon a short half hour at Goethe’s, whom 
I found still at dinner. 

We conversed upon some subjects of natural science ; 
particularly upon the imperfection and insufficiency of 
language, by which errors and false views which after- 
wards could not easily be overcome were spread abroad. 
“The case is simply this,” said Goethe. ‘All lan- 
guages have arisen from surrounding human necessities, 
human occupations, and the general feelings and views 
of man. If, now, a superior man gains an insight into 
the secret operations of nature, the language which has 
been handed down to him is not sufficient to express 
anything so remote from human affairs. He ought 
to have at command the language of spirits to express 
adequately his peculiar perceptions. But as this is 
not the case, he must, in his views of the extraor- 
dinary in nature, always grasp at human expressions, 
with which he almost always falls too short, lowering 
his subject, or even injuring and destroying it.” 

‘If you say this,” said I, * you who always pursue 
your subjects very closely, and, as an enemy to phrases, 
can always find the most fitting expressions for your ° 
higher pereeptions, there is something in it. But I 
should have thought that, generally, we Germans might 
be contented. Our language is so extraordinarily rich, 

VOL. Il. DD 


402 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


elaborated, and capable of progress, that even if we are 
obliged sometimes to have recourse to a trope, we can 
still arrive pretty nearly at the proper expression. The 
French are at a great disadvantage when compared 
with us. With them the expression for some higher 
view of nature by a trope, generally borrowed from a 
technicality, is at once material and vulgar, so that it is 
by no means adequate to a higher view.” 

“« How right you are,” said Goethe, ‘‘ has appeared 
to me lately, on the occasion of the dispute between 
Cuvier and Geoffrey de St. Hilaire. Geoffrey de St. 
Hilaire is a man who has certainly a great insight into 
the spiritual workings of nature ; but his French lan- 
guage, so far as he is constrained to use traditional 
expressions, leaves him quite in the lurch. And this 
not only in mysteriously spiritual, but also in visible, 
purely corporeal subjects and relations. If he would 
express the single parts of an organic being, he has na 
other word but materialien: thus, for instance, the 
bones, which, as homogeneous parts, form the organic 
whole of an arm, are placed upon the same scale 
of expression as the stones and planks with which a 
house is built. 

“¢In the same inappropriate manner,” continued 
Goethe, “the French use the expression composition, 
in speaking of the productions of nature. I can cer- 
tainly put together the individual parts of a machine 
made of separate pieces, and, upon such a subject, 
speak of a composition ; but not when I have in my 
mind the individual parts of an organic whole, which 
produce themselves with life, and are pervaded by a 
common soul.” 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 403 


“It appears to me,” added I, “ that the expres- 
sion composition is also inappropriate and degrading to 
genuine productions of art and poetry.” 

“Tt is a thoroughly contemptible word,” returned 
Goethe, “ for which we have to thank the French, 
and of which we should endeavour to rid ourselves as 
soon as possible. How can one say, Mozart has 
composed (componiit) Don Juan! Composition! As 
if it were a piece of cake or biscuit, which had been 
stirred together out of eggs, flour, and sugar! It 
is a spiritual creation, in which the details, as well as 
the whole, are pervaded by one spirit, and by the breath 
of one life ; so that the producer did not make experi- 
ments, and patch together, and follow his own caprice, 
but was altogether in the power of the demonic spirit 
of his genius, and acted according to his orders.” 


(Sup.*) Sunday, July 27, 1831. 

We spoke of Victor Hugo. ‘“ He is a fine talent,” 
said Goethe, “but quite entangled in the unhappy 
romantic tendency of his time, by which he is seduced 
to represent, together with what is beautiful, also that 
which is most insupportable and hideous. I have 
lately been reading his ‘ Notre Dame de Paris,’ and 
required no little patience to support the horror with 
which this reading has inspired me. It is the most 
abominable book that ever was written! Besides, one 
is not even indemnified for the torture one has to 
endure by the pleasure one might receive from a truth- 
ful representation of human nature or human character. 
His book is, on the contrary, utterly destitute of nature 
and truth! ‘The so-called acting personages whom he 

DD2 


404. CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1831, 


brings forward are not human beings with living flesh 
and blood, but miserable wooden puppets, which he 
deals with as he pleases, and which he causes to make 
all sorts of contortions and grimaces just as he needs 
them for his desired effects. But what an age it must 
be which not only renders such a book possible, and 
calls it into existence, but even finds it endurable and 
delightful.” 
(Sup.*) Wednesday, July 14, 1831. 

I and the Prince accompanied his majesty, the King 
of Wurtemburg, to Goethe’s. On our return the 
king appeared much pleased, and deputed me to con- 
vey his thanks to Goethe, for the pleasure this visit 
had given him. 

(Sup.*) Thursday, July 15, 1831. 

A moment with Goethe, when I executed my yes- 
terday’s commission from the king. I found him 
occupied in studies relative to the spiral tendency of 
plants ; of which new discovery his opinion is, that it 
will be carried a great way, and that it will exercise a 
great influence upon science. ‘ There is nothing,” 
said he, ‘ beyond the pleasure which the study of 
nature produces. Her secrets are of unfathomable 
depth, but it is granted to us men to look into them 
more and more; and the very fact that she remains 
unfathomable at last perpetually charms us to approach 
her again and again, and ever to seek for new lights 
and new discoveries.” 


(Sup.*) Tuesday, July 20, 1831. 
After dinner, a short half hour with Goethe, whom 
I found in a very cheerful, mild humour. He spoke 


1831. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 405 


of various things, at last of Carlsbad; and he joked 
about the various love affairs which he had experienced 
there. ‘A little passion,” said he, ‘is the only thing 
which can render a watering-place supportable ; with- 
out it, one dies of ennui. I was almost always lucky 
enough to find there some little ‘ elective affinity’ 
(Wahlverwandtschaft), which entertained me during the 
few weeks. I recollect one circumstance in particular, 
which even now gives me pleasure. 

“TI one day visited Frau von Reck. After a 
commonplace chat, I had taken my leave, and met, 
as I went out, a lady, with two very pretty young girls. 
‘Who was that gentleman who just now left you?’ 
asked the lady. ‘It was Goethe,’ answered Frau von 
Reck. ‘ Oh, how I regret,’ returned the lady ‘ that 
he did not stay, and that I have not had the happi- 
ness of making his acquaintance!’ ¢ You have lost 
nothing by it, my dear,’ said Frau von Reck. ‘ He is 
very dull amongst ladies, unless they are pretty enough 
to inspire him with some interest. Ladies of our age 
must not expect to make him talkative or amiable.’ 

‘When the two young ladies left the house with 
their mother, they thought of Frau von Reck’s words. 
‘ We are young, we are pretty,’ said they, ‘let us see 
if we cannot succeed in captivating and taming this 
renowned savage!’ The next morning, on the pro- 
menade by the Sprudel, they made me, in passing, 
the most graceful and amiable salutations, and I 
could not forbear taking the opportunity of approach- 
ing and accosting them. They were charming! [ 
spoke to them again and again, they led me to their 
mother, and so I was caught. From that time we 


406 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


saw each other daily, nay, we spent whole days to- 
gether. In order to make our connection more inti- 
mate, it happened that the betrothed of the one arrived, 
when I devoted myself more exclusively to the other, 
I was also very amiable to the mother, as may be 
imagined ; in fact, we were all thoroughly pleased with 
one another, and I spent so many happy days with 
this family, that the recollection of them is even now 
highly agreeable. The two girls soon related to me the 
conversation between their mother and Frau von Reck, 
describing the conspiracy which they had contrived for 
my conquest, and brought to a fortunate issue.” 

An anecdote of another kind occurs to me, which 
Goethe had related to me before, but which may find 
a place here. 

‘* I was once walking,” said he, ‘¢ towards evening, 
in the castle garden with a friend, when, at the end of 
an avenue, we unexpectedly remarked two other per- 
sons of our circle, who were walking in quiet conver- 
sation with one another. I cannot name either the 
lady or the gentleman ; but that is not to the purpose. 
They conversed, and appeared to think of nothing,— 
when, suddenly, their heads inclined towards each 
other, and they exchanged a hearty kiss. They then 
resumed their former direction, and continued their 
conversation as if nothing had happened, ‘ Did you 
see it?’ exclaimed my friend, full of astonishment ; 
‘ may I believe my eyes?’ ‘I did see it,’ returned I, 
quietly, ‘ but I do not believe it.’ ” 


(Sup.*) Monday, August 2, 1831. 
We spoke of the metamorphosis of plants, and 








1831. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 407 


especially of Decandolle’s doctrine of symmetry, which 
Goethe considers a mere delusion. 

“¢ Nature,” added he, ‘‘ does not reveal herself to 
every one. On the contrary, she deports herself 
towards many like a young tantalizing girl, who allures 
us by a thousand charms, but at the moment when we 
expect to seize her and to possess her, slips from our 
arms.” 

(Sup.*) Wednesday, October 19, 183r. 

The meeting of the society for the promotion of 
agriculture was held to-day at Belvidere. We had also 
the first exposition of products and objects of indus- 
try, which was richer than had been expected. Then 
there was a great dinner of the numerous assembled 
members. Goethe joined them, to the joyful surprise 
of all present. He remained some time, and surveyed 
the objects exhibited with evident interest. His 
appearance made a most agreeable impression, espe- 
cially upon those who had not seen him before. 


(Sup.) Thursday, December 1, 1831. 

Passed a short hour with Goethe, in varied conver- 
sation. We then came to Soret. 

“ T have lately been reading a very pretty poem of 
his,” said Goethe, ‘ a trilogy,—the first two parts of 
which possess an agreeable rusticity, but the last, 
under the title * Midnight,’ bears a sombre character. 
In this ‘ Midnight’ he has succeeded. In reading 
it, one actually breathes the breath of night ; almost as 
in the pictures of Rembrandt, in which one also seems 
to feel the night-air. Victor Hugo has treated similar 
subjects, but not with such felicity. In the nocturnal 


408 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [183r. 


scenes of this indisputably great man, it is never 
actually night; on the contrary, the subjects remain 
always as distinct and visible as if it were still day, and 
the represented night were merely a deception. Soret 
has, unquestionably, surpassed the renowned Victor 
Hugo, in his * Midnight.’” 

I was pleased at this commendation, and resolved to 
read the said trilogy, by Soret, as soon as possible. 
“We possess, in our literature, very few trilogies,” 
remarked I, 

“This form,” returned Goethe, ‘is very rare 
amongst the moderns generally. It sometimes hap- 
pens that one finds a subject which seems naturally to 
demand a treatment in three parts; so that in the first 
there is a sort of introduction, in the second a sort of 
catastrophe, and in the third a satisfying denouement. 
In my poem of ‘ The Youth and the Fair Miller, 
these requisites are found, although when I wrote it 
I by no means thought of making a trilogy. My 
‘ Paria,’ also, is a perfect trilogy ; and, indeed, it was a 
trilogy that I intentionally treated this cycle. My 
‘ Trilogie der Leidenschaft’ (‘Trilogy of Passion), as it 
is called, was, on the contrary, not originally conceived 
as a trilogy, but became a trilogy gradually, and to a 
certain extent incidentally. At first, as you know, 
I had merely the elegy, as an independent poem. 
Then Madame Szimanowska, who had been at 
Marienbad with me that summer, visited me, and, 
by her charming melodies, awoke in me the echo of 
those youthful happy days. The strophes which I 
dedicated to this fair friend, are therefore written quite 
in the metre and tone of the elegy, and suit very well 


1831. CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. oO 
9 


as a satisfactory conclusion. Then Weygand wished 
to prepare a new edition of my ‘ Werther,’ and asked 
me for a preface; which to me was a very welcome 
occasion to write ‘ My Poem to Werther.’ But as I 
had still a remnant of that passion in my heart, the 
poem as it were formed itself into an introduction 
to the elegy. Thus it happened that all the three 
poems which now stand together are pervaded by the 
same love-sick feeling ; and the * Trilogie der Leiden- 
schaft’ formed itself I knew not how. 

“ T have advised Soret to write more trilogies ; and, 
indeed, he should do it as I have described. He 
should not take the trouble to seek a particular subject 
for a trilogy, but should rather select, from the rich 
store of his unprinted poems, one that is especially 
pregnant with meaning, and, when occasion offers, add 
a sort of introduction, and conclusion, yet still so that 
the three productions are separated by a perceptible 
gap. In this manner one attains one’s end far more 
easily, and spares oneself much thinking, which is 
notoriously, as Meyer says, a very difficult thing.” 

We then spoke of Victor Hugo, remarking that his 
too great fertility had been highly prejudicial to his talent. 

“« How can a writer help growing worse, and destroy- 
ing the finest talent in the world,” said Goethe, ‘if he 
has the audacity to write in a single year two tragedies 
and a novel; and further, when he only appears to 
work in order to scrape together immense sums of 
money. I do not blame him for trying to become 
rich, and to earn present renown ; but if he intends to 
live long in futurity, he must begin to write less and 
to work more.” 


410 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


Goethe then went through ‘ Marie de Lorme,” and 
endeavoured to make it clear to me that the subject 
only contained sufficient material to make one single 
good and really tragical act; but that the author had 
allowed himself, by considerations of quite a secondary 
nature, to be misled into stretching out his subject to 
five long acts. ‘ Under these circumstances,” said 
Goethe, ‘ we have merely the advantage of seeing that 
the poet is great in the representation of details, which 
certainly is something, and that no trifle.” 


Wednesday, December 21, 1831. 


Dined with Goethe. We talked of the reason why 
his ‘“¢ Theory of Colours” had been so little diffused. 

“‘ It is very hard to communicate,” said he, ‘ for, 
as you know, it requires not only to be read and 
studied, but to be done, and this is difficult. The laws 
of poetry and painting may likewise be communicated 
to a certain extent; but to be a good poet and painter 
genius is required, which is not to be communicated. 
To receive a simple, primitive phenomenon, to recog- 
nise it in its high significance, and to go to work with 
it, requires a productive spirit, which is able to take a 
wide survey, and is a rare gift only to be found in very 
superior natures. 

“And even this is not enough. For, as with every 
rule, and with all genius, one is yet no painter, but 
still requires uninterrupted practice, so with the 
‘ Theory of Colours’ it is not enough for one to 
know the chief laws and have a suitable mind, but 
it is necessary to occupy oneself constantly with the 
several single phenomena, which are often very 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 411 


mysterious, and with their deductions and combina- 
tions. 

“ Thus, for instance, we know well’ enough the 
general proposition that a green colour is produced by 
a mixture of yellow and blue ; but before a person can 
say that he comprehends the green of the rainbow, or 
of foliage, or of sea-water, there will be requisite a 
thorough investigation of the whole region of colour, 
with a consequent acme of acuteness, which scarcely 
any one has yet attained.” 

After dinner, we looked at some landscapes by 
Poussin. 

“ Those places,”’ observed Goethe, ** on which the 
painter throws the principal light, do not admit of 
detail in the execution ; and therefore water, masses of 
rock, bare ground, and buildings, are most suitable 
subjects to bear the principal light. Things, on the 
contrary, which require more detail in the drawing 
cannot well be used by the artist in those light places. 

“¢ A Jandscape-painter,” continued Goethe, ‘* should 
possess various sorts of knowledge. It is not enough 
for him to understand perspective, architecture, and 
the anatomy of men and animals; he must also have 
some insight into botany and mineralogy, that he may 
know how to express properly the characteristics of 
trees, plants, and the character of the different sorts 
of mountains, It is not, indeed, necessary that he 
should be an accomplished mineralogist, since he has 
to do chiefly with lime, slate, and sandstone mountains, 
and only needs know in what forms they lie, how they 
are acted upon by the atmosphere, and what sort of 
trees thrive, and are stunted upon them.” 


412 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1831. 


He showed me then some landscapes, by Hermann 
von Schwanefeld, making various remarks upon the 
art and personality of that eminent man. 

“© We find in him,” said he, “ art and inclination 
more completely identified than in any other. He has 
a deep love for nature, and a divine tranquillity, which 
communicates itself to us when we look upon his 
pictures. He was born in the Netherlands, and 
studied at Rome, under Claude Lorraine. On this 
master he formed himself to the highest degree of per- 
fection, and developed his fine capacities in the freest 
manner.” 

We looked into an ** Artist’s Lexicon,” to see what 
was said of Hermann von Schwanefeld, and found him 
censured for not equalling his master. 

“© The fools!” said Goethe; ‘* Von Schwanefeld 
was a different man from Claude Lorraine, and the 
latter could not boast of being the better of the two. 
If there were nothing more in one’s life than is told by 
our biographers and lexicon writers, it would be a bad 
business, not worth the trouble it costs.” 


At the close of this, and in the beginning of the 
next year, Goethe turned again to his favourite studies, 
the natural sciences. At the suggestion of Boisse- 
rée, he occupied himself with deeper inquiries into the 
laws of the rainbow ; and also, from sympathy with the 
dispute between Cuvier and St. Hilaire, with subjects 
referring to the metamorphoses of the plant and animal 
world. He, likewise, revised with me the historical 
part of the ‘* Theory of Colours,” taking also lively 
interest in a chapter on the blending of colours, which 


1831.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 413 


I, by his desirey was arranging to be inserted in the 
theoretical volume. 

During this time, there was no lack of interesting 
conversation between us, or of valuable utterances on 
his side. But, as he was daily before my eyes, fresh 
and energetic as ever, I fancied this must always be the 
case, and was too careless of recording his words till it 
was too late, and, on the 22nd March 1832, I, with 
thousands of noble Germans, had to weep for his 
irreparable loss. 


Po bth: ok. fe Cri 


poe ch teh 











e 





1832. 


(Sup.*) Thursday, January 5, 1832. 

Some new pen-and-ink sketches and water-colour 
drawings had arrived from my friend Topfer, in 
Geneva; the greater part of them were views in 
Switzerland and Italy, which he had collected during 
his pedestrian tour. Goethe was so much struck with 
the beauty of the sketches—particularly those in water- 
colour—that he said it appeared to him as if he were 
looking at the works of the renowned Lory. I 
remarked that these were by no means TOpfer’s best, 
and that he could send something very different. 

* J do not know what you would have,” returned 
Goethe. ‘ And what would it be even if something 
were better! As soon as an artist has attained a 
certain height of excellence, it is tolerably indifferent 
whether one of his works turns out a degree more 
perfect than another. The connoisseur still sees in all 
the hand of the master, and the whole extent of his 
talent and his means.” 


(Sup.*) Friday, February 17, 1832. 
I had sent Goethe a portrait of Dumont, which 
VOL. II. EE 


418 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1832. 


had been engraved in England, and which appeared to 
interest him very much. 

“IT have repeatedly examined the portrait of this 
remarkable man,” said Goethe, when I visited him 
this evening. ‘ At first I found something repulsive 
in it, which, however, I would have attributed to 
the treatment of the artist, who had cut the lines a 
little too deep and hard. But the longer I looked at 
this highly remarkable head, the more did all hardness 
disappear, and from the dark ground there came forth 
a beautiful expression of repose, goodness, and mild- 
ness blended with acuteness,* so characteristic of the 
clever, benevolent man, ever active for the general 
good, and so refreshing to the mind of the spectator.” 

We then spoke further of Dumont; particularly 
of the memoirs which he wrote with reference to 
Mirabeau, and in which he reveals the various 
expedients which Mirabeau had contrived to employ, 
and also mentions by name many persons of talent 
whom he had set in motion for his purposes, and with 
whose powers he had worked. 

“I know no more instructive book,” said Goethe, 
“ than these memoirs ; by means of which we get an 
insight into the most secret recesses of that time, and 
by means of which the wonder Mirabeau becomes 
natural to us, while, at the same time, the hero loses 
nothing of his greatness. But now we have the latest 
critics of the French journals, who think a little 
differently on this point. "These good folks think that 
the author of these memoirs wants to spoil their 


* ¢¢ Mildness blended with refined acuteness,” is intended as a mere 
approximation to the untranslatable ‘* Geistreich-feine Milde.”—Trans. 


OO — 


1832. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 419 


Mirabeau, because he unveils the secret of his super- 
human activity, and allows other people a share in the 
great merit which, until now, the name of Mirabeau 
had monopolized. 

“¢ The French look upon Mirabeau as their Hercules 
—and they are perfectly right, But they forget that 
even the Colossus consists of individual parts, and that 
even the Hercules of antiquity is a collective being—a 
great supporter of his own deeds and the deeds of 
others. 

*¢ But, in fact, we are all collective beings, let us 
place ourselves as we may. For how little have we, 
and are we, that we can strictly call our own pro- 
perty? We must all receive and learn both from 
those who were before us, and from those who are 
with us. Even the greatest genius would not go far if 
he tried to owe everything to his own internal self. 
But many very good men do not comprehend that ; 
and they grope in darkness for half a life, with their 
dreams of originality. I have known artists who 
boasted of having followed no master, and of having to 
thank their own genius for everything. Fools! as if 
that were possible at all; and as if the world would 
not force itself upon them at every step, and make 
something of them in spite of their own stupidity. 
Yes, I maintain that if such an artist were only to 
survey the walls of this room, and cast only a passing 
glance at the sketches of some great masters, with 
which they are hung, he would necessarily, if he had 
any genius at all, quit this place another and a higher 
man. And, indeed, what is there good in us, if it is 
not the power and the inclination to appropriate to our- 

EE 2 


420 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1832. 


selves the resources of the outward world, and to make 
them subservient to our higher ends. I may speak 
of myself, and may modestly say what I feel. It is 
true that, in my long life, 1 have done and achieved 
many things of which I might certainly boast. But to 
speak the honest truth, what had I that was properly 
my own, besides the ability and the inclination to see 
and to hear, to distinguish and to choose, and to 
enliven with some mind what I had seen and heard, 
and to reproduce with some degree of skill. I by no 
means owe my works to my own wisdom alone, but to 
a thousand things and persons around me, who pro- 
vided me with material. There were fools and sages, 
minds enlightened and narrow, childhood, youth, and 
mature age—all told me what they felt, what they 
thought, how they lived and worked, and what expe- 
riences they had gained; and I had nothing further to 
do than to put out my hand and reap what others had 
sown for me. 

“ Tt is, in fact, utter folly to ask whether a person 
has anything from himself, or whether he has it from 
others; whether he operates by himself, or operates by 
means of others. ‘The main point is to have a great 
will, and skill and perseverance to carry it out. All 
else is indifferent. Mirabeau was therefore perfectly 
right, when he made what use he could of the outer 
world and its forces. He possessed the gift of distin- 
guishing talent ; and talent felt itself attracted by the 
demon of his powerful nature, so that it willingly 
yielded itself to him and his guidance. “Thus he was 
surrounded by a mass of distinguished forces, which he 
inspired with his ardour, and set in activity for his own 


i 


1832. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 421 


higher aims. This very peculiarity, that he understood 
how to act with others and by others,—this was his 
genius—this was his originality—this was his great- 
ness.” 

(Sup.) Sunday, March rr, 1832. 

This evening for an hour with Goethe, talking of 
various interesting subjects. I had bought an English 
Bible, in which I found, to my great regret, that the 
apocryphal books were not contained. They had 
been rejected, because they were not considered 
genuine and of divine origin. I greatly missed the 
noble Tobias, that model of a pious life, the Wis- 
dom of Solomon, and Jesus Sirach,—all writings of 
such high mental and moral elevation, that few others 
equal them. I spoke to Goethe of my regret at the 
very narrow view by which some of the writings of 
the Old Testament are looked upon as immediately 
proceeding from God; while others, equally excellent, 
are not so. As if there could be anything noble and 
great which did not proceed from God, and which was 
not a fruit of his influence. 

*©T am thoroughly of your opinion,” returned 
Goethe. ‘Still, there are two points of view from 
which biblical subjects may be contemplated. There 
is the point of view of a sort of primitive religion, of 
pure nature and reason, which is of divine . origin. 
This will always be the same, and will last and _ prevail 
as long as divinely endowed beings exist. It is, how- 
ever, only for the elect, and is far too high and noble 
to become universal. Then there is the point of view 
of the Church, which is of a more human nature. This 
is defective and subject to change ; but it will last, in a 


422 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1832. 


state of perpetual change, as long as there are weak 
human beings. The light of unclouded divine revela- 
tion is far too pure and brilliant to be suitable and 
supportable to poor weak man. But the Church steps 
in as a useful mediator, to soften and to moderate, 
by which all are helped, and many are benefited. 
Through the belief that the Christian Church, as the 
successor of Christ, can remove the burden of human 
sin, it is a very great power. ‘To maintain themselves 
in this power and in this importance, and thus to secure 
the ecclesiastical edifice, is the chief aim of the christian 
priesthood, 

“ This priesthood, therefore, does not so much 
ask whether this or that book in the Bible greatly 
enlightens the mind, and contains doctrines of high 
morality and noble human nature. It rather looks 
upon the books of Moses, with reference to the fall of 
man and the origin of a necessity for a Redeemer ; it 
searches the prophets for repeated allusions to Him, 
the Expected One, and regards, in the Gospels, His 
actual earthly appearance, and His death upon the 
cross, as the atonement for our human sins. You see, 
therefore, that for such purposes, and weighed in such 
a balance, neither the noble Tobias, nor the Wisdom 
of Solomon, nor the sayings of Sirach, can have much 
weight. Still, with reference to things in the Bible, 
the question whether they are genuine or spurious is 
odd enough. What is genuine but that which is truly 
excellent, which stands in harmony with the purest 
nature and reason, and which even now ministers to 
our highest development! What is spurious but the 
absurd and the hollow, which brings no fruit—at least, 


1832.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 423 


no good fruit! If the authenticity of a biblical book is 
to be decided by the question,—whether something 
true throughout has been handed down to us, we 
might on some points doubt the authenticity of the 
Gospels, since those of Mark and Luke were not 
written from immediate presence and experience, but, 
according to oral tradition, long afterwards ; and the 
last, by the disciple John, was not written till he 
was of a very advanced age. Nevertheless, I look 
upon all the four Gospels as thoroughly genuine ; for 
there is in them the reflection of a greatness which 
emanated from the person of Jesus, and which was of 
as divine a kind as ever was seen upon earth. If I 
am asked whether it is in my nature to pay Him 
devout reverence, I say—certainly! I bow before 
Him as the divine manifestation of the highest prin- 
ciple of morality. If I am asked whether it is in my 
nature to revere the Sun, I again say—certainly! For 
he is likewise a manifestation of the highest Being, and 
indeed the most powerful which we children of earth 
are allowed to behold. I adore in him the light and the 
productive power of God ; by which we all live, move, 
and have our being—we, and all the plants and animals 
with us. But if I am asked—whether I am inclined to 
bow before a thumb-bone of the apostle Peter or Paul, I 
say—‘ Spare me, and stand off with your absurdities ! ’ 

‘** Quench not the spirit,’ says the Apostle. There 
are many absurdities in the propositions of the 
Church ; nevertheless, rule it will, and so it must have 
a narrow-minded multitude, which bows its head and 
likes to be ruled. The high and richly-endowed clergy 
dread nothing more than the enlightenment of the 


424 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1832. 


lower orders. They withheld the Bible from them as 
long as it was possible. Besides, what can a poor 
member of the Christian Church think of the princely 
magnificence of a richly-endowed bishop, when he sees 
in the Gospels the poverty and indigence of Christ, 
who, with his disciples, travelled humbly on foot, 
whilst the princely bishop rattles along in his carriage 
drawn by six horses !” 

“We scarcely know,” continued Goethe, ‘ what 
we owe to Luther, and the Reformation in general. 
We are freed from the fetters of spiritual narrow- 
mindedness ; we have, in consequence of our increas- 
ing culture, become capable of turning back to the 
fountain head, and of comprehending Christianity in its 
purity. We have, again, the courage to stand with 
firm feet upon God’s earth, and to feel ourselves in 
our divinely-endowed human nature. Let mental cul- 
ture go on advancing, let the natural sciences go on 
gaining in depth and breadth, and the human mind 
expand as it may, it will never go beyond the elevation 
and moral culture of Christianity as it glistens and 
shines forth in the Gospel ! 

“¢ But the better we Protestants advance in our noble 
development, so much the more rapidly will the 
Catholics follow us. As soon as they feel themselves 
caught up by the ever-extending enlightenment of the 
time, they must go on, do what they will, till at last 
the point is reached where all is but one. 

“The mischievous sectarianism of the Protestants 
will also cease, and with it the hatred and hostile feel- 
ing between father and son, sister and brother; for as 
soon as the pure doctrine and love of Christ are com- 


1832. ] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 425 


prehended in their true nature, and have become a vital 
principle, we shall feel ourselves as human beings, 
great and free, and not attach especial importance to 
a degree more or less in the outward forms of reli- 
gion. Besides, we shall all gradually advance from a 
Christianity of words and faith, to a Christianity of 
feeling and action.” 

The conversation turned upon the great men who 
had lived before Christ, among the Chinese, the Indians, 
the Persians, and the Greeks ; and it was remarked, 
that the divine power had been as operative in them as 
in some of the great Jews of the Old Testament. 
We then came to the question how far God influenced 
the great natures of the present world in which we 
live? 

“©To hear people speak,” said Goethe, ‘ one 
would almost believe that they were of opinion that 
God had withdrawn into silence since those old times, 
and that man was now placed quite upon his own feet, 
and had to see how he could get on without God, and 
his daily invisible breath. In religious and moral 
matters, a divine influence is indeed still allowed, but 
in matters of science and art it is believed that they 
are merely earthy, and nothing but the product of 
human powers. 

*¢ Let any one only try, with human will and human 
power, to produce something which may be compared 
with the creations that bear the names of AZzart, 
Raphael, or Shakspeare. I know very well that these 
three noble beings are not the only ones, and that in 
every province of art innumerable excellent geniuses 
have operated, who have produced things as perfectly 


426 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1832. 


good as those just mentioned. But if they were as 
great as those, they rose above ordinary human nature, 
and in the same proportion were as divinely endowed 
as they. 

“¢ And after all what does it all come to? God did 
not retire to rest after the well-known six days of 
creation, but, on the contrary, is constantly active as 
on the first. It would have been for Him a poor 
occupation to compose this heavy world out of simple 
elements, and to keep it rolling in the sunbeams from 
year to year, if he had not had the plan of founding a 
nursery for a world of spirits upon this material basis. 
So he is now constantly active in higher natures to 
attract the lower ones.” 

Goethe was silent. But I cherished his great and 
good words in my heart. 

Early in March 1832.* 

Goethe mentioned at table that he had received a 
visit from Baron Carl Von Spiegel, and that he had 
been pleased with him beyond measure. 

“* He is a very fine young man,” said Goethe; “ in 
his mien and manners he has something by which the 
nobleman is seen at once. He could as little dissemble 
his descent as any one could deny a higher intellect ; for 
birth and intellect both give to him who once possesses 
them a stamp which no incognito can conceal. Like 
beauty, these are powers which one cannot approach 
without feeling that they are of a higher nature.” 


* In the original book this conversation follows immediately the one 
of December 21, 1831, and with the remainder of the book is prefaced 
thus :—“ The following I noted down shortly afterwards (that is, after 
they took place) from memory.”—Trans. 


1832.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 427 


Some days later. 

We talked of the tragic idea of Destiny among the 
Greeks. 

“Jt no longer suits our way of thinking,” said 
Goethe ; “it is obsolete, and is also in contradiction 
with our religious views. If a modern poet introduces 
such antique ideas into a drama, it always has an air of 
affectation. It is a costume which is long since out of 
fashion, and which, like the Roman toga, no longer 
Suits us. ; 

*« It is better for us moderns to say with Napoleon, 
‘ Politics are Destiny.’ But let us beware of saying, 
with our latest literati, that politics are poetry, or a 
suitable subject for the poet. ‘The English poet 
Thomson wrote a very good poem on the Seasons, 
but a very bad one on Liberty, and that not from want 
of poetry in the poet, but from want of poetry in the 
subject.” 

“If a poet would work politically, he must give 
himself up to a party ; and so soon as he does that, he 
is lost as a poet; he must bid farewell to his free spirit, 
his unbiassed view, and draw over his ears the cap of 
bigotry and blind hatred. 

“The poet, as a man and citizen, will love his 
native land ; but the native land of his poetic powers 
and poetic action is the good, noble, and beautiful, 
which is confined to no particular province or country, 
and which he seizes upon and forms wherever he finds 
it. ‘Therein is he like the eagle, who hovers with free 
gaze over whole countries, and to whom it is of no 
consequence whether the hare on which he pounces 
is running in Prussia or in Saxony. 


428 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [ 1832. 


‘* And, then, what is meant by love of one’s country? 
what is meant by patriotic deeds? If the poet has 
employed a life in battling with pernicious prejudices, 
in setting aside narrow views, in enlightening the 
minds, purifying the tastes, ennobling the feelings and 
thoughts of his countrymen, what better could he 
have done? how could he have acted more patrioti- 
cally? 

“To make such ungrateful and unsuitable demands 
upon a poet is just as if one required the captain of a 
regiment to show himself a patriot, by taking part in 
political innovations, and thus neglect his proper call- 
ing. The captain’s country is his regiment, and he 
will show himself an excellent patriot by troubling 
himself about political matters only so far as they con- 
cern him, and bestowing all his mind and all his care 
on the battalions under him, trying so to train and 
discipline them, that they may do their duty if ever 
their native land should be in peril. 

“T hate all bungling like sin; but, most of all, 
bungling in state-affairs, which produces nothing but 
mischief to thousands and millions. 

“You know that, on the whole, I care little what 
is written about me; but yet it comes to my ears, and 
I know well enough that, hard as I have toiled all my 
life, all my labours are as nothing in the eyes of certain 
people, just because I have disdained to mingle in 
political parties. ‘To please such people I must have 
become a member of a Jacobin club, and preached 
bloodshed and murder. However, not a word more 
upon this wretched subject, lest I become unwise in 
railing against folly.” 


1832.] CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. 429 


In the same manner he blamed the political course, 
so much praised by others, of Uhland. 

“ Mind,” said he, ‘the politician will devour the 
poet. To be a member of the States, and to live 
amid daily jostlings and excitements, is not for the 
delicate nature of a poet. His song will cease, and 
that is in some sort to be lamented. Swabia has plenty 
of men, sufficiently well educated, well meaning, able, 
and eloquent, to be members of the States, but only 
one poet of Uhland’s class.” 





The last stranger whom Goethe entertained as his 
guest, was the eldest son of Frau von Arnim ; the last 
words he wrote were some verses in the album of this 
young friend. 





The morning after Goethe’s death, a deep desire 
seized me to look once again upon his earthly gar- 
ment. His faithful servant, Frederic, opened for me 
the chamber in which he was laid out. Stretched upon 
his back, he reposed as if asleep; profound peace 
and security reigned in the features of his sublimely 
noble countenance. ‘The mighty brow seemed yet to 
harbour thoughts. I wished for a lock of his hair ; 
but reverence prevented me from cutting it off. The 
body lay naked, only wrapped in a white sheet; large 
pieces of ice had been placed rear it, to keep it fresh as 
long as possible. Frederic drew aside the sheet, and I 
was astonished at the divine magnificence of the limbs. 
The breast was powerful, broad, and arched; the arms 
and thighs were full, and softly muscular; the feet 
were elegant, and of the most perfect shape ; nowhere, 


430 CONVERSATIONS OF GOETHE. [1832. 


on the whole body, was there a trace either of fat or of 
leanness and decay. A perfect man lay in great beauty 
before me; and the rapture which the sight caused 
made me forget for a moment that the immortal spirit 
had left such an abode. [I laid my hand on his heart— 
there was a deep silence—and I turned away to give 
free vent to my suppressed tears. 


THE END, 











INDEX. 


A 


Academies, vol. i. page 129 
Actors, Goethe’s school for, i. 
162 





method of testing their ca- 

pabilities, i. 228 

studies necessary for per- 
sonating a Greek hero, i. 380 

Actions, right and wrong, results 
of, i. 273. 

Advice, oxak by Goethe on, ii. 





334 
*¢ Alexis and Dora,” by Goethe, i. 


2 
‘Aarons, Mons. J. J.—his notice of 
Stapfer’s translation of Goethe’s 
dramatic works, i. 4.05 
Goethe’s praises of him, 
i. 4.12 
Angouléme, Duc d’, i. 132 
Antiquity, worship of, i, 316 
oe remark by Goethe on, 
i. 71 
Ast modern, i. 86 
—— the sensual and ideal in, ii. 
123 
—— Meyer’s history of, i. 101 
Arts, method of cultivating a taste 
for, i. 137 
Artists, religion of, i. 160 
relation to nature, i. 401 
representation of surround- 
ing objects by, i. 268 
young German, origin of 
their errors, li. 380 
VOL. Il. 














Artistic madness, anecdote of, ii. 


19 
“ Aufgeregten Die,” by Goethe, i. 
120 


“ Ballad, The,” by Goethe, ii. 112 

Bavaria, King of —his letter to 
Goethe, ii. 168 

Beauty, definition of, i. 394 

favourable circumstances 
necessary for its development, 
i. 396 

Beaumarchais, ** Memoirs ” 





of, ii. 


17 
Behrisch, his definition of expe- 

rience, ii, 214 

anecdotes of him, ii. 215 

Beranger, his imprisonment, ii. 150 
his personality, ii. 254 
his political poems, ii. 255 
poems of, i. 315, 343 
~ chansons de, i. 350 
his perfection attributable 
to the influence of his birth- 
place, i. 4.08 
his political 




















and love 
songs, i. 


411 
ary Sere books of the, 


Blucher, his liking to speak, ii. 
172 
Blumenbach, appearance and man- 
ners of, i. 40. 
F F 


434 


Bonaparte, Napoleon, i. 152, 287, 
3245 3255 U- 40, 43, 159 

————_ his campaign in Egypt, 
ii. 165, 166 

his impulse to speak, 





ii, 172 
his fate, ii. 228 

——_ his example, ii. 377 

“ Book of Ill-Humour,” by Goethe 
—state of mind in which he 
wrote it, i. 119 

Bourrienne, his account of Napo- 
leon’s campaign in Russia, ii. 
165 

Bows and arrows, manufacture of, 
i. 251, et seq 

Brandt of Berlin, a medal by him, 
i, 130 

“ Bride of Corinth,” by Goethe, 
ii. 250 

“ Buch, Herr von,” ii. 130 

« Biirger-general,” by Goethe, ii. 
112 

Biirger, i. 264 

Burns, i. 4.10 

Byron, Lord, his tragedies, i. 50 

Goethe’ s opinion of, i. 73 

his “ Cain,” i. 129, 419 

remarks on, i. 140, 171,198 

Goethe’s admiration for 
him,i.205 * 

—— his character,i. 207, et seq. 

compared with Shakspeare, 


Wo7y 
—— Goethe’s opinion of, i. 290, 





_— 
os 
—_—_—_ 





“ Two Foscari,” i. 291, 424 
— remarks on, ii. 51 
—— his esteem for Voltaire, ii. 
116 
— his power of renouncing 
himself, ii. 253 


Cc 


“ Cain,” by Byron—Goethe’s cri- 
tique upon, i. 129, 419 

Calderon, i. 262, 292 

Campe, his speech to Goethe, ii. 275 





INDEX. 


Canning, speech of, i. 313 

Capo d’ Istria, Goethe’s prophecy 
concerning, ii. 148 

Caracci, the, ii. 189 

Carlyle, Mr. Thomas, i. 441 ; ii. 86 

Catholics, great influence of, ii. 155 

Chancellor, the, i. 86 

Charles the Tenth—Goethe’s re- 
marks on his head, ii. 328 

Change required, law of, i. 356 

Chlorine, i. 40 

Chinese novel, i. 349 

Chodowiecky, i. 77 

Christianity independent of philo- 
sophy, ii. 121 

Christian priesthood, ii. 422 

Church, the, ii. 421-2 





Claude Lorraine, ii. 176, 183, 188, 


12 

cofoiies Goethe’s theory of, ex- 
plained, i. 51, 109, 120, 161, 
302, 304, 355, 3655 ii. 229, 
3732 410 





ex- 
periments relating tovit, i. 73 

Conjuring tricks, ii. 329 

Conscience, tender, il. 397 

Coudray, ii. 127 

his remarks on road-mak- 
ing, ti. 152 

Cousin, Victor, li. 133, 149, 224 

Courier, Paul Louis, ii. 378 

Critic, qualifications ofa, i. 183 

‘¢ Critique on the Power of Judg- 
ment,” by Kant, i. 393 

Cuckoo, the, popular prejudices 
concerning, li. 25 

Culture, effects of, upon young 
minds, ii. 192 





| Cuvier, il. 224 


Cycle of biblical figures, design for, 
ii. 263, 273 


D 


D’Alton, i. 230 

Dante, i. 184 

‘* Daphnis and Chloe,” Courier’s 
translation of, ii. 364 


—— propositions of, ii. 423 . 


a 








INDEX. 


** Daphnis and Chloe,” Goethe’s 
opinion of, ii. 375, 377 

David, ii. 247, 249 

** Deformed Transformed, The,” 
by Byron, i. 294, 296 

*¢ Demanded Colour,” ii. 174. 

————- Goethe’s theory of, ii. 
138 

Demonic, the—definition of, ii. 
359» 3925374 

*¢ Descent of Christ into Hell,” by 
Goethe, i. 287 

“‘ Dichtung und Wahrung,” by 
Goethe, i. 124 5 ii. 387 

* Divan, The,” by Goethe, i. 119 

Divine name, the—remarks on the 
abuse of, i. 110 

“Doctrine of Experiment,” by 
Goethe, i. 393 

** Don Juan,” by Byron, i. 423 

“Doge of Venice, The,” by 
Goethe, i. 204. 

Dramatic authors, influence of, i. 
ae 

unities, i. 206 

———— power, abuses of pointed 
out, and remedy proposed, i. 224 

Drawing, i. 422 

** Dumb Girl of Portici,” ii. 368 

Dumont, ii. 218 

his intimacy with Ben- 

tham, ii. 224 

portrait of, ii. 417 

his memoirs of Mirabeau, 











ii. 4.18 
E 


Ebert, Egon, ii. 158, 178 
Eberwein, his “Count of Gleichen,” 
i. 42 
Eckermann, letters from, to Goethe, 
il. 293) 302) 316 
his remarks on the pub- 
lishing of Goethe’s letters, ii. 323 
his comments on the 
fourth volume of Goethe’s life, 


ii. 355 * 

remarks by him on 
Goethe’s “ Truth and Poetry,” 
ii. 369 








435 


Education, defects of, in Germany, 
ii. 61 
Egloffstein, the Countess Caroline, 


i. 51 
Egmont, by Goethe, i. 121, 193 
Schiller’s version of, ii. 136 
“ Elective Affinities,” the, by 
Goethe, i. 152 
Elegy from Marienbad, i. 79 
its origin, i. 80 
Goethe’s account of it, 





i. 96 
Elevation of character among men, 

absence of regretted, i. 271 
English, the, ii. 57 
the, imputed motives of, 
in their declamations against the 
slave-trade, ii. 194 
critics, their elevation and 
soundness, ii. 107 

literature, superiority of, 

i. 184. 


journals, tone of, in 1824, 
deplored, i. 116 

Entelechia, the, ii. 46 

Error, prevalence of, ii. 110 

“6 Eugenie,” by Goethe, i. 203 

Europeans, social evils amongst, ii., 














55 
Euripides, i. 260 5 ii. 337 
———-- Goethe’s defence of, i. 


Schlegel on, i. 377 
Evangelists, the, ii. 334. 


F 


False tendencies, ii. 185, 186 
of the age, i. 232 
False doctrines, ii. 331 
*¢ Faust,” by Goethe, i. 141, 415 3 
ii, 12 
presumptuous _ proposi- 
tion respecting, i. 231 
want of a musical com- 
poser for, ii. 129 
second part of, i. 321; 
ii. 195, 197, 202-206, 210, 333, 
3922 399 


436 INDEX, 


“ Feinde Die,” by Houwald, i. 
20 

* Fiesco,” by Schiller, i. 327 

Flemming, i. 316 

Fouque’s ‘* Sangerkreig auf der 
Wartburg,” ii. 71 

Undine,” ii. 72 

France, politics of, i. 428 

favourable to the produc- 
tion of political poems, ii. 256 

Frankfort, Eckermann’s stay there, 
ii. 282, et seq. 

French revolution, Goethe’s politi- 
cal sentiments at the time of, 
i. 121 

—— the, interest excited amongst 
them by German works, i. 180 

—— poets, the classic and roman- 
tic, il, 14.9 

Furniture, old-fashioned, i. 325 

luxurious, ii. 331 











G 


Gay, Mademoiselle, poems by, i. 
8 

Geist, remarks on the word, ii. 378 

** Gemma von Art,” Goethe’s cri- 
ticism of, ii. 266 

Genius derives its materials from 
others, ii. 429 

Geological poem, i. 169 

Gérard, his translation of Goethe’s 
*¢ Faust,” ii. 210 

Gerhard, Herr, i. 34.7 

German architecture, old, i. 75 

songs, obscurity of, i. 410 

language, study of, recom- 

mended, i. 190 

philosophy, ii. 134 

Germans, Goethe’s remarks on, 
il. 59 

Germany, unity of, ii. 104. 

cause of her greatness, 














ii. 105 en 
Goethe’s estimation of, 





i, 126 : 
political poet impossible 
there, ii. 256 

















Globe newspaper, the, i. 2905 





ii. 75 
Goethe, personal appearance of, 
* 39 it : ; 
is reading aloud, i. 4.1 


his translation of the 
“ Phaeton”’ of Euripides, i. 42 
his interest in the discovery 
of salt springs, i. 42 

his illness, i. 4.5 

his recovery, i. 48 

its celebration at the 
theatre, i. 49 

his remarks on the theatre, 




















i. 50 





interior of his house, i. 53 
his advice to a young poet, 
i. 64, 82 

a letter from him, i. 61 
his opinion of Lord Byron, 














3 

his early life described by 
his valet, i. g1 
his indisposition, i. 88, 97 
probable cause of his ill- 
ness, i. 98 
Rauch’s statue of, i. 128 
his religious opinions, i. 














120 
retrospective view of his 
life, i. 124. 

restraints imposed upon 
him by society, i. 131 

his fears for the future 
tranquillity of the world, i. 133 
he declares himself a 
royalist, i. 134 

his comparison between 
great and inferior talent, i. 143 
his garden, i. 145 

the barometer, i. 147 
—— his antagonists, i. 155 

his autobiography, i. 199 
his position with reference 
to natural philosophers, i. 230 
laments the false tenden- 
cies of the age, i. 232 

he urges the necessity for 
a concentration of ideas, i. 236 


























many subjects, i. 237 


regrets his attention to so 


— 


ee oa nh PE 8 Key 


INDEX. 


Goethe, refutes the notion that he 
is no friend to the people, i. 241 

his high opinion of the 

Grand-Duke, i. 242 

his interest in the manu- 

facture of bows and arrows, i. 

251, et seq. 

influence exercised over 

him by celebrated persons, i. 263 

cessation of his practical 

influence in the theatre, i. 285 

his new novel, i. 319, 329, 

345» 354 

he comments on the fashion 
of fitting np rooms in the old 
style, i. 325 

—— his motives for leaving 
presents unacknowledged, i. 34.1 

he describes the studies 

necessary for an actor of a Greek 

hero, i. 380 

his plan of treating the 

tradition concerning Tell as an 

epic poem, i. 4.12 

his ignorance of ornitho- 

logy, ii. 1, et seq. 

his love of the freedom of 

nature, ii. 

his indifference for mere 

rank, ii. ro. 

his belief in invisible influ- 

ence, ii. 19 

recollections of his disputes 

with Kotzebue and others, ii. 62 

his portrait by Stieler, ii. 62 

grief at the death of the 

Grand-Duke, ii. 65, 68 

remarks on his own works, 


















































ii. 87 

his architectural know- 
ledge, ii. 128 

his sensitiveness concern- 
ing his Theory of Colours, ii. 143 
his dislike for a splendid 
abode, ii. 146 

receives a letter from the 
King of Bavaria, ii. 168 

his ** Second Residence in 
Rome,” ii. 179, 185 

his remarks on self-know- 
ledge, ii. 180 























437 


Goethe, his early letters, ii. 184. 

——. his opinion of philosophical 
meetings, ii. 219 

his reception of the news 

of the death of the Grand- 

Duchess, ii. 230, 232, 236 

his first love, ii. 243 

the origin of his ballads, 

ii. 250 

he justifies himself for not 

having taken up arms, ii. 257 

his martyrdom, ii. 258 

describes his forcible appro- 

priation of a room, ii. 260 

his Mephistophilistic hu- 

mour, ii. 268 

his objection to madhouses, 

ii. 269 

his prejudice against spec- 

tacles, ii. 276 

remark by him on young 

talents, ii. 292 

his letters to Eckermann, 

ii. 310-312 

curious papering of his 

rooms, ii. 312 

his illness, ii. 319, 388 

his opinion of conjuring 

tricks, ii. 329 

his admiration for the 

miracle of Christ walking on 

the water, ii. 332 

his confidence in inocula- 

tion, ii. 344. 

his remarks on the word 

Geist, ii. 378 

his objection to luxurious 

furniture, ii. 381 

his sister, ii. 384 

his speech on the opening 

of the Ilmenau mine, ii. 391 

his directions concerning the 

publication of his works, ii. 393 

his adventures at Carlsbad, 




































































ii. 405 

his latest studies, ii. 4.12 
his death, ii. 4.13 

his deep sense of divine 
influence, ii. 425 

his appearance after death, 
ii. 429 














438 


Goethe, Frau Rath, anecdote of, 
ii, 226 

Goethe, Frau von, i. 40, 72 

the chaos estab- 
lished by her, ii. 278 

Goethe the younger, i. 71, 126, 325 

Goetz von Berlichingen,” by 
Goethe, i. 139, 207, 288, 291 

Gospels, the, genuineness of, ii, 423 

Grand-Duke, the, remarks by 
Goethe on a sketch of his life, 


ii. 94 








virtues of, ii. 98 

Goethe’s connection 

with, ii. 98 

his mathematical ten- 

dencies, ii. 173 

———— his progressive nature, 
u.'435 

Grand-Duchess, the, remarks by 
Goethe on, ii. 104 

Goethe’s 
for, ii. 381 | 

* Grand Coptha,” by Goethe, ii. 
339 

Great men, ii. 196 

before Christ, ii. 425 

Greek art the only model, i. 352 

—— treatment of simple subjects, 
+353 

—— tragedy, pervading tone of, 
4 357 


— 














admiration 











hero of, i. 380 

— tragedies, character of, i. 409 

artists, li. 92 

Greeks, their tragic idea of destiny, 
ii. 427 

Grimm, anecdote of, ii. 235 

Guizot, ii. 133, 149 

remark by him on the 

Germans, ii. 163 

Goethe’s admiration for, ii. 











22 

iE a Vasa,” by Arnault, 
Goethe’s comments on its csi- 
tics, il. 234 

Gymnasiums, introduction of archery 
into, suggested, i. 24.9 

Gymnastic exercises, abolition of, 
regretted, i, 250 





INDEX. 


H 


Hagen, August, i. 65 

“ Hagestolz,” by Iffland, i. 151 

Hamann, i. 386 

‘¢ Hanswursts Hocheit,”’ by Goethe, 
fragments of, ii. 361 

‘* Happy Couple, The,” by Goethe, 
i, 112 

Hegel, ii. 35 

“ Helena,” by Goethe, i. 319, 3435 
398, 425 

Herder, i. 179, 386 

‘Herman and Dorothea,” by 
Goethe, i. 200; ii. 124 

High maxims, ii. 373 

Goethe’s comments, on his 

book, i. 366, et seq. 

quotation from him, i. 367 

Hinrich on antique tragedy, i. 365 

History, French and English, com- 
pared, i, 269 

Roman and Grecian, i. 180 

History of mankind, ideas for, i. 179 

Hugo, Victor, his “ Notre Dame de 
Paris,” ii. 403 

—— his excessive fertility, 
ii. 409 

Hummel, improvisation by, i. 41 

Humboldt visits Goethe, i. 90, 98 

Goethe’s admiration for 
him, i. 299, 363 
letter from him to 


Goethe, ii. 95 














le J 


“ Tliad, The,” ii. 237 
Immerman, i. 101. 
 Ilmenau,” by Goethe, ii. 102 
Imagination, its province, i. 426 
“¢ Indian Death Dirge,” by Schiller, 
ii. 147 
Indian Philosophy, ii. 134. 
Inoculation for small-pox, ii. 34.4. 
Iodine, experiments with, i. 40 
“ Iphigenia,” by Goethe, i. 378 
Irish emancipation, il. 154 
Jacobi, i. 385 


—— ae _ 








INDEX. 


“¢ Journey through Frankfort and 
Stuttgard to Switzerland,” i. 77 


K 

Kant, i. 393 

Kauffmann, Angelica, i. 105 

* Kein Wesen kann zu _ nichts 
Zerfallen,” written by Goethe 
in contradiction to some lines of 
his, ii. 127. 

Klopstock, i. 178 

Knowledge, practical, i. 256 

Kolbe, painting by, i. 41 

Kotzebue, i. 77, 338 

Goethe’s disputes with, 





ii. 62 
Krauter, Secretary, i. 85 
“ Kriegs-gliick,” by Goethe, i. 104 
Kriiger, Herr, his impersonation of 
Orestes, i. 379 
Kunst und Alterthum, i. 195 


L 


Lafontaine, i, 152 

Lagrange, ii. 127 

Landscape painter, qualifications of, 
ii, 411 

Language, imperfections of, i. 401 

Learning to read, difficulty of, ii. 
219 

Lavater, ii. 133, 212 

Lazaretto poetry, i. 44.1 

Leo, Heinrich, i. 431 

Leonardo da Vinci, i. 300 

© Les Deux Isles,” by Victor Hugo, 
i. 314 

Lessing, ..201, 362, 392 

Liberal, dennition of one, ii. 226 

Life, demoralizing erfect of, ii. 271 

Life of man, ii. 360 

Light, polarization of, i. 39 

Literary revolution in France, ii.251 

Love, i. 114 

Luden, history of the Germans by, 
1532 

“ Luise,” by Voss, ii. 330 

Luther, Martin, ii. 424 





439 


M 


Mahometans, their mode of instruc- 
tion, i. 390 

Mankind, development of, ii. 97 

artificial state of, de- 
plored, ii. 116 

Man, self-importance of, ii. 34.7 

Manly, the—want of it in pictures, 
i, 336 

Manzoni, Alexander, i. 352 

romance by, i. 432, et 








seq. 
Martius, Herr von, ii. 75, 219, 220 
Memory, effect of illness upon, 
ii. 270 
¢ Memoirs of St. Simon,” ii. 245 
- remarks on modern 
French literature, ii. 246 
Menander, i. 261 
Mental culture, ii. 109 
¢ Mephistophiles,” by Goethe, 
quotation from, ii. 111 
Merck, ii. 125, 135, 382, 385 
Merimée, ii. 253 
** Metamorphosis of Plants,” by 
Goethe, 1. 3595 ii. 343, 374 
Meyer, “ History of Art” by, i. 10% 
i. 125, 2373 ii. 387 
anecdote by him of artistic 
madness, ii. 191 
Meyerbeer, ii. 129 
Michael Angelo’s statue of Moses, 
ii. 284. 
“ Mignon,” by Goethe, i. 354. 
Milton, “Samson Agonistes” of, 
ii. 220 
Milan, Eckermann’s stay there, ii. 
285 
Mineralogical world, ii. 352 
* Minna von Barnhelm,” by Less- 
ing, i. 292 
Goethe’s comments up- 
on, li. 382 
Mirabeau, Dumont’s memoirs of, 
ii. 4.18 








French estimate of, ii. 
419 

Goethe’s remarks on, 
ii. 420 


440 


- Missions of men, ii. 51 

Modern art, i. 86 

Modern painters, i. 390 

Moliére, i. 262, 284 

his “ Tartuffe,” i. 292 
his ** Malade Imaginaire,” 








i. 374 
— Goethe’s love for him, 


i, 

Menander compared to 

him, i. 375 

Schlegel’s critique of, i. 376 

Moon, the—its change does not 
affect the weather, i. 387 

Mozart, letter from, i. 299 

Music, effect of, upon Goethe, 
i. 317 








petrified, ii. 146 
Musical talent, ii. 338 
Mysteries, natural, ii. 129 





N 


Napoleon, Eugéne, i. 144 
Buonaparte, 1. 152, 287, 





324. uh 
Goethe’s admiration of, 





i. 325 
Goethe’s opinion of, ii. 





4°, 43 A < 
——— personal influence of, ii. 


159 et} 
his campaign in Egypt, 
ii. 165, 166 4 
his impulse to speak, 
ii. 172 





his fate, ii. 228 

his example, ii. 377 

Nature, the accessible and inacces- 
sible in, i. 338 

artists’ twofold relation to 

her, i. 401 

contradictory phenomena 
in, ii. 253 

Natural mysteries, ii. 129 

science, original minds re- 

quired in, ii. 113 

science, elevating influence 
of, ii. 131 

National hatred, ii. 259 




















INDEX. 


Niebuhr, ancient treaty discovered 
by him, i. 359 
Neureuther, ii. 391 


oO 


* Oberon,” by Wieland, ii. 242 

Officials, choice of, ii. 4.5 

Old Testament, ii. 421 

Omnipresence of God, ii. 398 

Opera, ii. 81 

Organic and mineralogical worlds, 
il. 352 

Ornithology, Goethe’s ignorance 
of, ii, 1, et seq. 

anecdotes of, ii. 32 








P 


Painters, young, deficiencies of, 
i. 300 





modern, i. 390 
‘¢ Pandora,” i. 74 
Panama, passage through Isthmus 
of, i. 364. 
Parry, Major, account of Lord 
Byron, i. 268 
Paris, aids to the development of 
talent in, i. 407 
“Paria, The,” Goethe’s poem of 
the glorification of, i. 88 
Peter the Great, ii. 187 
Petersburgh, inundation of, i. 185 
Petrified music, ii. 146 
“‘ Phzton of Euripides,” translated 
by Goethe, i. 42 
Philoctetes of Aschylus, i. 353 
of Euripides, i. 353 
of Sophocles, i. 353 
Platen, Count, the Ghazels of, i. 99 
i, 156% 5 ik 992 
Plays, casting of, i. 229 
objectionable, i. 285 
Poets, modern German tragic, i. 77 
advice to, i. 64, 82 
objective and subjective ten- 
dencies of, i. 283 
French and German‘ com- 


pared, i. 314 























INDEX. 


Poets, delicate organization of, ii. 
200 

unjust demands upon, ii. 428 

the aim of, i. 352 

Poetical culture in Germany, i. 286 

Poetic feeling, universality of, i. 351 

Poetry, classical and romantic, ii. 
27 

Poetemest i. 194. 

Poussin, landscapes of, i. 128 

Preller, i. 265 

Priesthood, christian, ii. 422 

*¢ Prison Key, The,” a Servian 
poem, i. 347 

Provincial pronunciation, i. 163 

Protestants and catholics, ii. 424. 

Productiveness, ii. 4.1, 4.7 

Pulcinella, ii. 235 








R 


Races of men, ii. 77 

Ramberg, i. 142 

‘* Rameau’s Neffe,” by Goethe, 
1. 49 ; 

 Rasselas,” i, 42.3 

Rauch’s statue of Goethe, i. 128 

Raupach, his ‘ Erdennacht,” i 

6 


7 
Reciprocity of mind and body, ii. 
272 
Reformation, the, ii. 4.24. 
Rehbein, Counsellor, i. 93 
Religion, primitive, ii. 421 
Reutern, Herr von, ii. 389 
Representation of surrounding ob- 
jects by artists, i. 268 
Revolutions, Goethe’s opinions of, 
i, 122 
Riemer, Herr, i. 4.1 
*¢ Rire de Mirabeau, Le,” ii. 274. 
* Roderick Random,” i. 423 
Rome, ii. 81 
Rossini’s ** Moses,” ii. 76, 81 
Roos, animals of, i. 138, 143 
eg ee et Noir,” by Stendhal, 
i, 328 
Tctea, landscape by, i i. 389s 399 
Rubens, double light in picture by, 
i, 4.00 
VOL. Il. 





44t 


Rulers, popularity of, ii. 155 

Riickert, his ‘* Roses from the 
East,” i. 89 

Rural popalation, i ii. 56 

Russian campaign, il . 164 


Rythm, ii. 161 


Ss 


Saint Hilaire, Geoffrey de, his con- 
test with Cuvier, ii. 291 

Saint Simon, memoirs of, ii. 24.5 

Saint Simonians, the, ii. 313 

Salt springs, i. 42 

*¢ Samson Agonistes” of Milton, 
ii. 220 

Schiller, i. 93 

his * Wallenstein,” i. 93 

his self-torments, i. 94 

——— his method of working, 








——— politics of, i. 122 
mm i. 151, 154, 156 

— describes Goethe, i. 202 
—— his “ Thierkreis,” i. 202 
compared to Byron, i. 335 
his physical and ideal free- 
dom, i. 336 

Goethe’s connection with, 











i. 386 

influence of national cul- 

ture on, i. 408 

his * William Tell,” i i 

414; ii. 372 

anecdote of, ii. 15 

———— Goethe’s remarks on, ii. 6 

—— his acquaintance wit 
Goethe, ii. 148 

his difficulty in controlling ¥ 

his subject, ii. 267 

his discrimination 
abridgment, i il. 279 

Schlegel, i. 376, 4.03 

Schmidt, eR his playing, 
i, 40, 7 

Schone, Carl, ii. 331 

Schubart, ii. 121 

Schiitze, St. i. 290 

Schultz, state counsellor, i. 69 

GG 

















in ¥ 


442 


Schwanefeld, landscapes of, ii. 4.12 

Scientific men, jealousy of, i. 107 

Scott, Sir Walter, i. 198 

— his letter to Goethe, i. 437 

—— remark on, ii. 73 

—— his “ Fair Maid of Perth,” 
ii. 72, 81 

—— his “ Waverley,” ii. 83 

—— his “ History of Napoleon,” 
ii, 212 

—— Goethe’s admiration for, ii. 


364 
remarks on, ii. 367 
Self-control, necessity for, i. 159 
Seven Years’ War, the, i. 133 
Servian poems, ‘* Motives” of, i. 





197 
Ra tencate: discourse upon, i. 114. 
his disregard of the 
unities, i. 206 
greatness of, i. 276 
not a theatrical poet, 
i. 276, 292 
———— his ‘“ Macbeth,” i. 








oe 





277 d 

his ‘ Troilus — and 

Cressida,” i. 277 

lively scenes in his 
plays, i. 357 

———— artistic boldness of, i. 














402 








his power of produc- 
tion, ii. 48, et seq. 
Solger, writings and letters of, i, 


33 
Sophocles, the “ Antigone” of, i. 
37% 381 
——— his knowledge of thea- 
trical effect, i. 372 
his ‘* Philoctetes,” i, 


373 Y : 4 
his ** CEdipus,” i. 373 
Society, Goethe’s deference to feel- 
ings of, i. 131 
Soret, his ** Midnight,” ii. 407 
Soul, immortality of the, ii. 122 
Spectacles, Goethe’s dislike of, ii. 
276 
Spiritual knowledge, limits of, ii. 


aes Ms 
Stage, writing for the, ii. 124 





INDEX. 


“Starring” a theatre, i. 305 

Stieler’s portrait of Goethe, ii. 62 

Sternberg, Count, i. 4.17 

Stendhal, Count, his ‘* Rouge et 
Noire,” ii. 328 

Switzerland, first impression of, on 
Goethe, i. 127, 4.12 

Symanowska, Madame, her playing, 
i. 76, 81, 85 


= 


“ Tartuffe,” of Moliére, i. 292 

Talent, great and inferior, com- 
pared, i. 143 

Talents, young, ii. 292 

* Tasso,” by Goethe, i. 4.15 

Tell, Goethe’s plan of an epic on, 
i. 412 

Theatre, improvement of, i. 49 

fondness of youth for, i. 





214. 





management of, i. 222, 
2459 293 

Theatrical performances on Sunday, 
i, 222 

scenery, ii. 237 

——— laws, i. 246 

“ Thierkreis, The,” by Schiller, i. 
202 

Thomson, poems of, ii. 427 

Tieck, i, 153 

— his reading of Goethe’s 
 Clavigo,” ii. 83 

Topfer, ii. 327 

drawings of, ii. 4.17 

Tasso Torquato, i. 172, 192 

“ Trilogie der Leidenschaft,” by 
Goethe, ii. 408 

“Two Foscari,” by Byron, i. 2915 
424 





U 


Ubland, i. 74.3 ii. 429 
Ulrica, Fraulein, i. 73, 102 
“ Undine,” by Fouqué, ii. 72. 


———EE— ee ee 


it 


INDEX. 443 


Utilitarians, ii. 348 
“¢ Urania,” by Tiedge, i. 135 


Vv 


Vegetation, influence of, ii. 151 

Victor Hugo, i. 314. 

Villemain, ii. 133, 134, 149 

Voigt, Hofrath, ii. 240 

Voltaire, Goethe’s opinion of, ii. 
114 





influence of, ii. 209, 379 

Voss, Goethe’s opinion of, ii. 14 

—— his translation of Homer, ii. 
174 


Ww 


“ Wahlverwandschaften,” by 
Goethe, i. 339, 4165 ii. 125, 

*¢ Wahrheit und Dichtung,” by 
Goethe, i. 173 

“ Wallenstein,” by Schiller, i. 93, 


il. 397 = 
“ Walpurgis-nacht,” by Goethe, ii. 
217, 2275 349 ; 
** Wanderjahre,” by Goethe, i. 319 
Weakness of the age, ii. 128 
Weather, Goethe’s theory of, j, 52 
its changes, i. 387 
Weimar, theatre of, i. 211, et seq. 
plans for advancing the 
drama there, i. 216 
plan for an improved 
theatre there, i. 220 
the bookbinders of, i. 53 
police restrictions of, ii. 59 
Wellington, Duke of, i. 286 




















“ Werther,” by Goethe, i. 106, 116 
Buonaparte’s fondness 

for, ii. 167 

its suppression by the 
Catholics, ii. 155 

Wieland, i. 201, 386 

tomb of, i. 421 

remark by him, i. 443 

his ** Oberon,” ii. 242 

“ Wilhelm Meister,” by Goethe, i. 

















200, 275 
*€ William Tell,” by Schiller, ii. 372 
Winckelmann, i. 363 
Wisdom, ii. 34.0 
Wolf, Friedrich August, i. 104, 157 
Wolff, Dr., improvisatore, i. 281 
Wolff, Goethe’s pupil, ii. go 
Women, Goethe’s idea of, ii. 93 
Writing for the stage, ii. 124. 
Writing, German, English, and 
French styles of, compared, i. 154. 
et seq. 


x 

“ Xenien, The,” by Goethe and 
Schiller, i. 201 
»'¢ 


Young talents, ii. 292 


Z 


“ Zauberflote, Goethe’s sequel to, 
i, 50 

Zauper, studies by, i. 81 

Zelter, i. 101, 1033 ii. 160 

letter of, to Goethe, i. 239 








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